Nigel Owens has come out in support of Jeremy Guscott’s radical law-change proposal to reduce the number of substitutions per game.
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.
Guscott’s proposal was in reaction to South Africa’s tactically superb usage of their replacements bench throughout the World Cup – with the now famed ‘bomb squad’ of six forwards and just two backs playing a major role in the Boks’ title triumph.
Two former Springboks – Corne Krige and Neil de Kock – have already voiced their objections against the proposal. But Owens, one of the most respected referees in the game, has now supported Guscott’s idea.
In his column for WalesOnline, Owens writes that a reduction in the number of replacements as well as a change to the process of making substitutions during a game would benefit the sport as a whole.
‘This is something I have been saying for a long time. Every question-and-answer session I do I am always asked which law I would like to change and I always say I would like to see the substitution law changed.
‘I am not sure if going down to three as Jeremy suggested is doable at the top end of the game, but I certainly do believe the game will benefit from reducing it to at least five, even four,’ suggested Owens.
‘Even if they don’t reduce the number of substitutions the game would certainly benefit from changing the way they are used, whether that’s substitutions having to be done at half time or injury substitutions only, but not for tactical reasons. This is something that really needs to be looked at I feel.
‘If you risk taking somebody off that’s not injured and another player who comes on gets injured, that other player is out of the equation. This will help close the loophole then if players are not genuinely injured.
‘But we need to make sure we don’t put any player on the field in jeopardy by forcing them to play on with an injury and put themselves at risk of a more serious injury.’
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