Rugby World Cup: substitutions

Rugby match - Google Free Image
Rugby match - Google Free Image

Rugby is a fast-moving team sport that involves a lot of high-impact interaction between players, and rugby players sustain approximately three times more injuries than soccer players. This makes it fair to assume that the 2015 Rugby World Cup will have its fair share of injuries. Indeed, less than two weeks and there have already been a number of high-profile casualties, like Springbok captain Jean de Villiers.

About 50% of injuries occur while a player is tackling or being tackled. Because forwards are more involved in rucks, mauls and other physical collisions, they tend to suffer more injuries than backs. 

A few facts about rugby injuries

- More than 40% of injuries are muscular strains or bruising, 30% are sprains, followed by dislocations, fractures, lacerations, and overuse injuries.

- Sprained ankles are common, representing about 14% of rugby injuries.

- Up to 25% of rugby injuries are head injuries.

- Approximately 44% of head injuries are concussions

Read: Common rugby injuries


In rugby union a full rugby squad consists of 22 players of which 7 players are substitutes. Substitutes can be used if a player gets injured, but substitutions can also be tactical to bring on fresh players or to change the tactics of the game.

A bench usually consists of four forwards and three backs, but this does not have to be the case and depends on the head coaches' discretion.   

Out of the seven substitutes, the manager can choose to use all seven players, a select few or none at all. Once a player is substituted, though, they cannot be brought back onto the pitch except in the case of:

1. Blood injury, requiring urgent medical attention. A player may not be on the field of play with an open wound, and can be temporarily placed in the "blood bin" while he is treated.

2. More recently, a rule has also been added to allow for temporary replacements for players with a suspected head injury, even if there are no superficial marks. This is to prevent players from playing on with concussions, which can be fatal.

3. A forward is needed to return to the pitch to replace an injured front-row forward. This is due to the technical nature of scrums, which can't go ahead without specialist front-row forwards.

Substitutes play an important part in the game and can be used to boost your game, but it is important not to break the rules.  

Read more:

Rugby injuries: new approach recommended

Rugby World Cup: are our players 'choking' themselves to death?

Is rugby ‘a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen’?

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
6% - 322 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
82% - 4068 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
12% - 589 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.