After a recent rant by England's head coach Eddie Jones regarding the number of replacements allowed in rugby, World Rugby has admitted that they are considering to reduce the number of replacements. If this change is introduced it will effectively kill the Springboks' bomb squad and give the moaning Aussie some excuse for the Springboks humiliation of his England team during the 2019 World Cup final.
Jones who has previously stated his opinion that the number of replacements has to be reduced said: “We have got to get some fatigue back into the game, we have got to get some space back into the game because otherwise, we will end up with NFL."
Telegraph.co.uk reported that World Rugby considers reducing the number of permitted replacements per match off the back of an ongoing study into the impact of replacements has on the pace of the game and injury rates.
World Rugby is using data from the sport’s major domestic leagues to inform future decision-making on reducing the number of replacements, which is currently eight allowed per match.
Dr Eanna Falvey, World Rugby's chief medical officer explained the in-depth study his team are working on to Telegraph Sport: "We try to base all of our decisions on evidence rather than emotion. Sometimes, the eyes deceive, and we need information and good quality data to make these types of decisions.
“We have that at the moment from Super Rugby, Premiership Rugby, Pro14 and we're putting it all together to look at the impact of substitutes on the pace of the game and injury rates."
Among the theories behind the calls is that reducing the number of giant fresh players entering the field of battle against tired opponents would make the sport safer.
Falvey underlined the practicalities that would come with reducing the number of replacements to Jones’ preferred six with teams still required to keep three specialist front row forwards on the bench to maintain safety in the scrum.
"It limits your options, basically," he added. "The real issue is whether or not you are prepared to cut down on replacements and having to play without specialist position players like a nine or a 10, because you might need to have a utility back.
"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 explained that if the number of replacements was to be cut, players would stay on the pitch longer meaning “those 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.
"But, the reason we have substitutions in the first place is to prevent injuries. It's difficult to know where the trade-off is with this."