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Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# Numbers
Schmidt calls for World Cup squad size to be increased to 32
The Ireland head coach would like to see 32-man squads in the future.

WHILE SOME NATIONS have already made the final calls and named their 31-man squads for the World Cup, Ireland are among those still mulling over the last few decisions.

This afternoon’s clash with Wales in Cardiff should allow Joe Schmidt to settle the remaining conundrums in his mind, before submitting a squad to World Rugby early next week and then publicly announcing his 31-player group on Sunday 8 September, the day after the return game against the Welsh in Dublin.

joe-schmidt James Crombie / INPHO Schmidt wants to see squad size increased in the future. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

The Ireland boss will hope word of his decisions doesn’t filter out before the official naming but, either way, he has found the process of whittling his squad down towards 31 as demanding as last time around in 2015.

Indeed, Schmidt is firmly of the mind that World Rugby needs to increase the squad size for future tournaments.

“You’d always love to have 34 but I think even just one more player would make a difference,” said Schmidt.

“I think 32 would make a difference because when you’ve got a five- or a four-day turnaround, you know that you’ve got three specialist positions – hooker, scrum-half and out-half.

“If you take three hookers, which you are really bound to, you could also take three scrum-halves and three out-halves but it’s very difficult, so one of them is going to have to back up.’

Schmidt uses the example of bringing two scrum-halves, which he did in 2015 and looks likely to do again this year, to highlight the difficulty.

“You might start one and the other guy is on the bench but then you get an injury to one of those players and that’s going to keep him out for two weeks or say he gets a red card, you can’t replace him under the laws of World Rugby.

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joe-schmidt-arrives James Crombie / INPHO Schmidt arrives at Twickenham before last weekend's clash with England. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“So suddenly your squad size is down to 30 and you’ve only got one scrum-half and he’s going to have to play the whole time.

“So to try to solve those conundrums, if you could have 32 players, you could have three scrum-halves and three out-halves and three hookers.

“You have to have five props because you can’t play a game of rugby without four qualified props. So as soon as you get a prop injury or prop suspension or even if a prop gets ill on the eve of a game, you’ve got to have someone else who can play that position.

“So when you add all those numbers up you’re starting to get skinny in the back row and second row and a little bit skinny in the back five, so I think 32 will help teams for sure.”

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