Guscott suggests law change to nullify Bok 'bomb squad'

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Jeremy Guscott
Jeremy Guscott

Cape Town - Legendary former England centre Jeremy Guscott has called on World Rugby to reduce the number of substitutions allowed during games.

Guscott shared his views via a column for the UK-based The Rugby Paper where he suggested that coaches should only be allowed to make three - instead of the customary eight - substitutions.

The Springboks made use of their bench to great effect during their victorious World Cup campaign in Japan, with coach Rassie Erasmus opting for six forwards and two backs on his bench.

This allowed the Bok mentor to keep his pack fresh throughout the tournament. He was able to change almost his entire pack during matches, with only flank Pieter-Steph du Toit and No 8 Duane Vermeulen staying on the field.

The Springbok substitutions became a popular hit during the tournament and even dubbed themselves the "bomb squad”.

Guscott, 54, said the recent World Cup in Japan has "left the game on a high" but he has one reservation:

"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," Guscott wrote.

Guscott, who played 65 Tests for England and eight for the British and Irish Lions between 1989 and 1999, added that "six or eight" players should still be allowed on the bench, but with coaches only allowed 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," he added.

- Compiled by Herman Mostert

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