Nigel Owens has publically backed Jeremy Guscott’s calls to cut the number of replacements used in a match.
Writing in the Rugby Paper, 65-times capped England centre Guscott, who also played eight Tests for the Lions, had said: “The World Cup has left the game on a high and there should be a feelgood factor from the tournament in rugby nations around the globe.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
Popular referee Owens agreed with Guscott’s idea although thought the numbers with his concept might not be quite right.
“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,” said Owens in his weekly column for Wales Online.
“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.”