'There's a growing belief less may be more' – World Rugby chief on Test schedule

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper

World Rugby chief Brett Gosper believes those arranging international matches should concentrate on quality over quantity in the calendar.

Both Wales and South Africa were missing a host of frontline players for their match in June, which was played outside the official Test window.

Wales won 22-20, but the build-up to the game was dominated by questions about the fixture’s validity.

“There’s a growing belief less may be more,” Gosper told BBC Radio 5 live.

“It’s a ‘Catch 22’ where national unions, in order to pay their players, will increase their inventory of the number of games. That has a negative effect on values.

“You’ve got to find the right balance of course. There’s player welfare mixed into that, where players should only be playing a certain number of games a year whether they’re playing club or international rugby.

“But there’s a growing realisation, there’s a lot of conversations around that of making those international games more meaningful but doesn’t necessarily mean making more of them.”

Wales were without most of their British and Irish Lions players against South Africa, who fielded seven debutants as they prepared for their three-Test series against England.

Former Wales captain Gwyn Jones called the match a “shambles” that “devalued international rugby”, while Premiership Rugby boss Mark McCafferty said the game should not be taking place because it was arranged outside the international window.

England’s decision to stage four World Cup warm-up games has also been criticised, although Wales, Ireland and Scotland have also opted for four Tests in the build-up to the 2019 tournament in Japan.

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BBC Sport – Rugby Union

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