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World Rugby consider move to reduce number of substitutes

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World Rugby are considering a proposal to reduce the number of substitutes from eight. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

World Rugby are considering a proposal to reduce the number of substitutes from eight. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

World Rugby are considering a proposal to reduce the number of substitutes from eight. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

WORLD RUGBY is considering reducing the number of replacements allowed in matches with a view to improving player welfare and improving the game.

England coach Eddie Jones has been a vocal supporter of the idea, which would prevent coaches sending in six new forwards during the second-half.

In turn, he and others believe that that would increase fatigue and lead to more space on the field while reducing the force of collisions.

Currently, rugby teams can make as many as eight changes during a match and the bench has become increasingly influential on deciding matches.

Jones himself refers to his subs as ‘Finishers’, while South Africa’s Rassie Erasmus utilised his ‘Bomb-squad’ bench to the full as he guided his team to World Cup glory last year; picking six powerful forwards in reserve to come on and steer the team home.

World Rugby are conducting a study to understand the impact of replacements on the game.

"We have got to get fatigue back, because we need space," Jones said last week as he called for officials to reduce stoppages as well as substitutes.

"Otherwise we will end up like the NFL. I support going down to six replacements and encouraging referees to make a decision and get on with the game.

"We have to find some way to tidy up the TMO. You only have to watch rugby league in Australia where it is clear and concise: one or two looks and a referee knows if a try can be awarded."

Speaking to The Telegraph, World Rugby’s head of medical Dr Eanna Falvey said the governing body is reviewing the idea.

"Our first step with this is to know whether reducing substitutions makes a big difference to the injury rate and pace of the game, and if it does to start looking at the practical solutions to that problem," Falvey said.

"Bigger players may need to play for 80 minutes rather than 55, which means a player can’t necessarily be 10kg heavier because he won’t be able to get around for the final 20 minutes.

"The downside is that may promote more injuries in those players while they are adapting and getting up to speed. But the upside would be that you have lighter players who are more mobile, and able to get around more.

"The argument would be that if you have players who are not quite as explosive, you might see a cut down in the number of injuries."

Meanwhile, CVC Capital Partners are looking to introduce pandemic clauses into their £300m investment into the Six Nations.

Those clauses would allow CVC withhold funding if matches or tournaments are cancelled.

According to the Observer, the value of the proposed deal for the investment firm to buy a 14.5m stake in the tournament would drop to £200m if the stakeholders do not agree to the clauses.

CVC has already invested in the English Premiership and the Guinness PRO14, while the firm is also reported to be interested in taking a stake in the British and Irish Lions and some Southern Hemisphere competitions or unions.

This year’s Six Nations is currently on hold and plans for finishing the competition have not yet been confirmed by organisers who are aiming to run the remaining four games over the last two weekends in October.

Online Editors