England World Cup winner Will Greenwood had called on referees to start taking draconian action to stamp out the flashpoint caused by replacements celebrating tries in the dead ball area and antagonising opposition players.

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The issue of the reserves joining in celebrations and sparking dust-ups with opponents came to the fore last weekend in the UK with incidents in the Edinburgh-Glasgow Guinness PRO14 derby and the Gallagher Premiership derby featuring Harlequins and Saracens. 

Greenwood, the ex-Test level midfielder, now wants officials to stamp out the flare-ups by punishing the subs who transgress after a try is scored. 

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Writing in his latest UK Telegraph column, Greenwood proposed: “It’s time to ban the substitutes from the field of play and give yellow cards or penalties to ensure it doesn’t happen. It shouldn’t be too hard to spot the transgressors – they’re the ones wearing fluorescent bibs, jumping up and down and shouting.

“Replacements have no place on the field of play for celebrations. The dead ball area is the field of play. All they do is agitate a team that has just conceded a try and are frustrated already. Add in the deliberate shouting and cheering, the bumping and the jostling, and you have a physical altercation that is waiting to happen.”

Reflecting specifically on last weekend incidents, he added: “At Murrayfield, Peter Horne ran a great line off Adam Hastings close to the line and scored for Glasgow. Edinburgh players who were attempting to tackle Hastings end up amongst and adjacent to the celebrating Glasgow players. 

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“That is fine, but in amongst it all were five or six fluorescent-bibbed Glasgow subs bumping and jostling everyone, whooping and hollering and being supremely irritating. Everything flared up and while no punches were thrown, things were teetering on the edge.

“It was totally out of order – messy, horrible and unnecessary. There was a brilliant piece of commentary from Chris Patterson at the time: ‘It frustrates me. It’s inflammatory when replacements are in behind the posts getting involved with celebrations as well. It can spill over.’

“He was right. Hastings scored a few minutes later and we immediately saw six or seven fluorescent bibbed replacements come charging on. At that point, Mike Adamson, the referee and hero of the day, got involved: ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, back away subs. When a try is scored I don’t want to see you sprinting to the try line, it’s just going to incite things.’

“The Premiership was no better. For Saracens against Quins, Michael Rhodes made a break up the right, got lucky with an offload that bounced off a Quins player’s head to Saracens new young prop Sam Crean, who burst clear. 

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“He offloaded to Billy Vunipola, who charged down the line, got stopped just short and after a quick ruck, Maro Itoje picked up and dotted down for a superb try. We then had three bib-wearing players run on and start celebrating in amongst the wreckage of the ruck which included Quins players. Why were they on the pitch?”

 

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