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Ex-Lions boss has 4-point plan to tackle nuisance water carriers

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Former Lions boss Ian McGeechan has published a four-point plan which he feels would rid rugby of the growing nuisance that water carriers have become in the sport. The Springboks have been involved in the most high profile recent incidents, director of rugby Rassie Erasmus running water onto the pitch during the Lions series while a member of staff was also instructed by Jacques Nienaber to harass an assistant referee during a Rugby Championship match. 


The malaise has since spread to the Gallagher Premiership in England with incidents last weekend resulting in Wayne Barnes taking issue with two members of the Wasps staff who were subsequently banned from having at matchday involvement in their club’s game at Saracens this Sunday. 

McGeechan has had enough with all the carry-on and has used his latest Telegraph rugby newsletter to outline a plan that he feels would bring an end to this rugby water carriers controversy once and for all. 

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The ex-Scotland and Premiership coach wrote: “The vogue for sending on water carriers whose main purpose is to relay messages from the coach to his players is symptomatic of a sad state of affairs where coaches do not trust their players. 

“Soon we will end up like American football, with players running to the sidelines every few minutes to ask for guidance, or even being miked up. That is not a road I want to see the game go down. 

“The annoying thing is that the answer is ridiculously simple. There are four ways I would stamp out this behaviour:
1. Decree that water carriers are only allowed onto the pitch if clearly beckoned on by the referee;
2. Ban them talking to officials;
3. I would insist that they stay in their box near the halfway line;
4. Coaches should never be allowed pitch-side but should be expected to sit in the stand. Coaches should coach and let players play.


“I would also try and encourage a change in attitudes. Rather than using experienced coaches or players as water carriers, why not use academy players so they get a small taste of what it is like to be in the middle of the action.”


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