(Reuters) - The 2023 Rugby World Cup in France will have increased rest periods for all teams as part of a new player welfare package announced on Monday by the Rugby World Cup Board, the World Rugby executive committee and tournament organisers.
As part of the package, teams will have at least five days to prepare for all matches for the first time, as the pool phase will be extended by a week.
Squad sizes will also be increased from 31 to 33 players to help them prepare for matches as part of the package described as "ground-breaking" in a joint statement.
The pool phase of the World Cup will now begin on Sept. 8, 2023 and conclude with the final on Oct. 28 and the overall travel distances as well as time will be reduced.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said the decisions marked a "landmark day" for Rugby World Cup and the sport.
"Men's Rugby World Cup schedules are difficult to balance owing to the format of four pools of five teams," Beaumont said in a statement.
"Japan 2019 provided the best balance and best-ever welfare outcomes, but we still had a limited number of relatively short rest periods between some matches.
"In collaboration with France 2023 and international rugby players, this decision means every player and every team will have a fairer chance to perform to their potential in every fixture.
"Now we will work with the teams to reduce overall load for players. Including travel."
The 2023 World Cup match schedule will be announced on Friday.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)