World Rugby to 'gather evidence' and hold talks over calls to ban SUBS

World Rugby vow to ‘gather evidence’ and will hold talks over calls to ban SUBSTITUTIONS – except for injuries – after Lions legends said ‘fresh giants crashing into tiring opponents’ make the sport ‘unnecessarily dangerous’

  • McGeechan’s pleas were documented in a letter signed by several Lions greats 
  • Willie John McBride, Sir Gareth Edwards, Barry John and John Taylor also signed 
  • There was plenty of concern after a brutally intense Test series vs South Africa
  • And Beaumont vowed to ‘gather evidence’ and look at research to solve the issue

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont will meet Sir Ian McGeechan to discuss player safety after McGeechan and several British and Irish Lions icons called for a ban on tactical substitutions.

Their pleas were documented in a frank letter sent to rugby’s governing body last week signed by McGeechan, Willie John McBride, Sir Gareth Edwards, Barry John, John Taylor and orthopaedic surgeon Professor John Fairclough. 

And Beaumont told the Times that he would meet McGeechan to discuss the claims the elite game ‘has become unnecessarily dangerous’ because of ‘fresh ‘giants’ crashing into tiring opponents’. 

Sir Bill Beaumont (above) stated he will meet Sir Ian McGeechan over player safety concerns

He said: ‘I have the utmost respect for the guys that wrote that letter so I am going to meet Geech (McGeechan) and speak to him about their concerns. He is someone I have played with, who is a good friend.

‘We are trying to gather as much evidence as we can. It is important World Rugby does not act in haste because that can lead to unintended consequences. Whatever the outcome of this research, player welfare will be at the top of the list of priorities.’

The University of Bath is understood to be doing a study of 2,000 top-level matches in both hemispheres analysing the injury risk of tackles by both subs and starters. 

The World Rugby chairman received a frank letter signed by McGeechan (left) among others

Amid several Test matches of brutal intensity against South Africa and their ‘bomb squad’ of behemoth forwards, the letter called for only four replacements permitted, used as injury cover rather than for tactical reasons. 

And Beaumont warned about complacency in dealing with player safety but restated his desire to make the game more attractive.

He added: ‘I have always been a believer that the reward you get from being part of a team and the life skills you get from that outweigh the risks from playing the game. 

There was widespread concern after several British and Irish Lions Test matches of brutal intensity against South Africa and their ‘bomb squad’ of behemoth forwards (pictured above)

‘Let’s look at whether having so many tactical replacements has changed the shape of the game. We have to take all the stakeholders with us. 

‘We are not complacent as an organisation or resting on our laurels, we want to make the game more attractive, to attract more men and women and boys and girls to play and watch rugby at all levels.’

The letter mentioned former Wales and Lions captain Sam Warburton’s autobiography, in which he revealed fear a player could die on the pitch – although he has since stated changes to head injury rules has removed that possibility. 

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