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Nigel Owens backs Guscott's populist law change proposal

By Ian Cameron
Rugby referee Nigel Owens and Peter O'Mahony (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Arguably rugby union top’s referee – Nigel Owens – has backed a radical law change proposal put forward by former England centre turned pundit, Jeremy Guscott.


In his WalesOnline column Owens said that a dramatic reduction of the number of replacements in the game would benefit the sport as a whole.

Currently, eight substitutes are allowed, and players who have been tactically replaced can come back on to replace injured players.

Owens believes both the number and the replacement process should be changed.

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“This is something I have been saying for a long time. Every question and answer session I do I am always asked which law I would like to change and I always say I would like to see the substitution law changed,” stated Owens.

Guscott suggested just three replacements, which Owens doesn’t quite back.


“I am not sure if going down to three as Jeremy suggested is doable at the top end of the game but I certainly do believe the game will benefit from reducing it to at least five, even four,” suggested Owens.

“Even if they don’t reduce the number of substitutions the game would certainly benefit from changing the way they are used, whether that’s substitutions having to be done at half time or injury substitutions only, but not for tactical reasons. This is something that really needs to be looked at I feel.


“If you risk taking somebody off that’s not injured and another player who comes on gets injured, that other player is out of the equation. This will help close the loophole then if players are not genuinely injured.

“But we need to make sure we don’t put any player on the field in jeopardy by forcing them to play on with an injury and put themselves at risk of a more serious injury,” said Owens.

Sonny Bill Williams speaks at a press conference alongside Toronto Wolfpack head coach Brian McDermott and chief executive Bob Hunter following his move to the Super League newcomers.

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