Jeremy Guscott has called for a key law change that would have stopped South Africa’s ‘bomb squad’ from having any meaningful impact at the World Cup.
The South Africa used their replacements bench superbly throughout the World Cup with their now famed ‘bomb squad’ of six forwards and just two backs, playing a major role in the Boks’ title triumph.
In his column in the Rugby Paper, Guscott – a former England and British & Irish Lions centre – has called on World Rugby to implement a football-like substitution law, by restricting the number of replacements from eight to three per match to allow for a fairer contest.
‘My only reservation is that it would be an even better sport if the bench was reduced in number. Half a team coming on with fresh legs and sharp minds against guys who have been taken to the point of exhaustion, is pushing the game out of the realms of normality,’ Guscott wrote.
‘We have got to make sure that Rugby Union remains a game in which skill and fitness are paramount, even though the fitness element has been eroded.
‘A player like Alun Wyn Jones can go for 80 minutes, and so can Mako Vunipola, but there are a hell of a lot that cannot. The only problem is they are not made to pay the price.’
He argues the game would be better off with teams only being able to use three replacements even though they could still have the same number of players sitting on the bench.
‘The game is great in many ways, but we should not be afraid to make it better. You could still have six or eight on the bench, but only be able to use three of them.
‘I believe this sport can get better still, and more attractive to play and to watch, by limiting the number of substitutions – and that should be the next big step we take.’