Jeremy Guscott believes one radical change will make rugby more exciting
England legend Jeremy Guscott believes fewer substitutions during games could make the game more attacking.
“The game needs to fix its root problem with the number of replacements now, and not delay,” wrote Guscott in his column for The Rugby Paper.
He continued: “As far as I’m concerned, you can have eight players on the bench, but you should only be allowed to bring two of them on as injury replacements.
The number of replacements permissible allows coaches to make like-for-like changes, leaving fatigue and versatility non-factors
— The Rugby Paper (@TheRugbyPaper) March 18, 2020
“There is a straitjacket about the way the game is being played at international level, and my fear is that Rugby Union is starting to become boring – and it is mainly because of the way the game has gone in terms of the number of substitutes allowed, and the influence that has on defences.
“It’s why, when you get a great attacking try like the one Wales scored through Justin Tipuric against England immediately after half-time, that people are bowled over by how spectacular it can be. What they do not seem to realise is that long-range inter-passing tries of that sort used to be scored reasonably regularly, rather than very occasionally.
“The problem we face in the Six Nations, and in other tournaments, is that there is now a far bigger emphasis on defence than there is on attack, and it is the number of replacements that is responsible.
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“To my mind you could now have eight forwards on the bench, rather than the 6-2 split Eddie Jones borrowed from South Africa, because the way the game is played none of the backs will be tired enough to need replacing.
“But we definitely do not need eight more forwards coming on. If we reduce the bench and move back towards a game for all shapes and sizes it will make it a far more exciting game, not only to play in, but also to watch.”
With fewer replacements, popular referee Nigel Owens also believes players would need to be smaller and lighter which would “reduce the impact” of collisions but he added a lot of research needed to be done first.