President of World Rugby Bill Beaumont wants to trial a return to substitutes for injuries only in rugby.
“I do worry that it has become a game for big people,” Beaumont revealed to The Telegraph.
“You have got players who only play for 50 minutes because of the use of substitutes. In the old days, in the last 20 minutes of the game it opened up because fatigue came into it. But fatigue doesn’t come into it now because teams just make wholesale changes.
“In the game between Northampton Saints and London Irish on Friday night, both sides just changed their props simultaneously. It is more about whose bench is more impactful.
“We need to look at it – not in a smoke-filled room, but do it in a proper trial and make sure that medical and player welfare is paramount. I just wonder if it would take the big hits out of the game.
“I do find it slightly disturbing at matches I go to when there is a bigger cheer when somebody gets cleaned out in a tackle than when someone scores a brilliant try. That is not the game of rugby that I was brought up to play in.
“It is an idea and we need to look at it in a controlled manner as opposed to an emotional one or someone writing on the back of a fag packet. You can only do it by trialling it and doing so at a top level, in conjunction with the medics.
“Player welfare is paramount and if you are injured, the player should come off. But do you look at saying, ‘Do we need a different shape of player?’
“We have to ensure we don’t become ‘reckless’ in what we do. We have to make the game as safe as we can and so players, whether it is in the community game or professional game, have longer careers and can enjoy the game.”
The idea has received a mixed reception: