South Africa: Stormers Coach On Guscott's Views - It's an Impossibility

19 November 2019

Cape Town — Stormers coach John Dobson says he doesn't agree with former England centre Jeremy Guscott's views on substitutions in rugby.

Guscott earlier this month called on World Rugby to reduce the number of substitutions allowed during matches.

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

He wrote: "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."

However, Dobson disagrees and told a media scrum at the Stormers' High Performance Centre in Bellville on Tuesday: "It's an impossibility. There was one game in the Currie Cup this year where six of our replacements were due to injury.

"The way rugby is going now... from a 20-minute ball in play 25 years ago, to close to 40 minutes in Japan now (at the Word Cup), going upwards of 300 or 400 collisions, it's impossible."

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.

Dobson added that it was vital for coaches to have a full front row on the bench.

"Otherwise it will become uncontested scrums. It's ironic coming from an Englishman when (their coach) Eddie Jones said: 'Come join us mate, the game's changed mate'. In the week before the New Zealand semi-final, he (Jones) announced his finishing team first."

Dobson warned that if World Rugby adhered to Guscott's request it would have grave consequences for rugby union.

"The idea of changing replacements is crazy because I think you're going to become like rugby league. Then you have to condition every forward, you have to condition Steven Kitshoff to play 80 minutes, you have to condition Salmaan Moerat to play 80 minutes... then the power goes out of it and I think it goes completely against what we're trying to do in South Africa. It might suit the Highlanders, but I'm not sure if it would suit South African teams."

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