Eddie Jones says the Springboks’ “bold and courageous” use of their substitutes should be viewed as innovation and not a threat to the game.
The Bok coaches’ 7-1 bench in London last week – after utility back Willie le Roux was forced to withdraw and loose forward Kwagga Smith included among the substitutes – helped South Africa hand the All Blacks the biggest defeat in their history.
However, it has also resulted in an uproar, with calls for World Rugby to limit the number of substitutions that a team can make, and Australian coach Matt Williams even argued that the Boks’ exploitation of the laws on substitutions is a safety issue and “against the spirit of the game”.
The Springboks have, however, received support from Jones – who served as a consultant under Jake White in 2007 – known as a great innovator himself.
“Tradition maybe says 5-3, but that doesn’t mean it’s right,” Jones told reporters. “If you are going to play a heavy dominant forward game, why wouldn’t you have more forward players on the bench?
“Rugby is changing, the way it is refereed and officiated off the field is changing, it’s just a sign of the times.
“Who says you have to have eight forwards and seven backs (in your starting team)? You don’t have to. There are different ways to play the game,” the Wallabies coach added.
“I applaud South Africa for being so bold and courageous in the way they want to play. That is great innovation.”
Jones has yet to win any of his five Test since returning to the helm at the start of this year, but feels the Wallabies are getting closer to ending that drought.
“The players’ talents have really shone through and we are just discovering now how we can play as a team and how to utilise our strengths.
“We have a new leadership group led by Will (Skelton) that is changing the team.
“I don’t believe you can copy other teams’ structure, you have to come up with your own way of playing. That has always been the goal. Initially we didn’t get it right and now we are finding the right way.”
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