5 British and Irish Lions greats have requested World Rugby to alter legal guidelines on substitutions, fearing a participant may die on the sector in any other case.
4-time Lions head coach Sir Ian McGeechan has signed an open letter asking that substitutions solely be made for accidents, somewhat than tactically.
Willie John McBride, Sir Gareth Edwards, Barry John and John Taylor additionally signed.
They stated the sport “has turn into unnecessarily harmful”.
The letter to World Rugby chairman Sir Invoice Beaumont, additionally signed by guide surgeon Professor John Fairclough, stated present gamers didn’t need communicate out due to “worry of dropping their livelihood”.
The previous gamers quoted two-time Lions captain Sam Warburton’s feedback in 2019 that somebody “will die throughout a recreation in entrance of TV cameras” if nothing is finished.
“It will be grossly negligent to permit the established order to proceed,” the letter continued.
“Rugby union was conceived as a 15-a-side recreation for 30 gamers. With the present eight substitutes per aspect, lots of whom are tactical ‘impression gamers’ or ‘finishers’, this could and sometimes does stretch to 46.”
Substitutions for harm have been first formally allowed in rugby in 1968, with tactical replacements launched in 1996, simply after the game grew to become skilled, though restricted to 3 initially.
In July, World Rugby set out a six-point participant welfare plan and in response to the open letter a spokesperson for the governing physique stated it “welcomes thought-about views that inform and help the constructive momentum generated by” that technique.
The letter added that some gamers now prioritised “energy over cardio capability” as a result of they weren’t anticipated to play for the complete 80 minutes.
“This shapes your entire recreation, resulting in extra collisions and within the latter levels quite a few contemporary ‘giants’ crashing into tiring opponents,” the letter continued.
“The easy change we advocate is to permit eight subs on the bench in case you should, however restrict the quantity that can be utilized to 4 after which solely within the case of harm.
“It will make the sport safer, a view supported by main gamers and eminent members of the medical occupation.
“We all know that World Rugby chairman Sir Invoice Beaumont agrees with us. In January 2020, he expressed his concern that ‘rugby had turn into a recreation for giant folks’ and backed a trial regulation whereby gamers may solely get replaced if injured.
“Sadly, greater than 18 months later World Rugby has performed nothing – but once more it stands accused of all phrases and no motion.
“So, no extra empty phrases, we name upon Sir Invoice to behave now within the profound hope that Sam Warburton’s phrases don’t turn into prophetic.”
A World Rugby spokesperson stated: “We’re performing in step with the newest science, analysis and knowledge to make the game as protected and accessible for all – in any respect ranges, and for women and men.”
The organisation stated “a complete evaluation of the impression of substitutes within the elite recreation”, taking in additional than 2,000 matches, is being undertaken by the College of Tub and would inform the long run strategy to harm prevention.
The evaluation is inspecting “whether or not extra accidents happen later in matches, whether or not starters or substitutes usually tend to be injured, the positions with probably the most publicity and the character of accidents”.
“We have to be conscious that the elite and group video games are usually not the identical, the harm threat could be very totally different and that substitutions are key to the game’s accessibility at this degree,” the spokesperson added.
“Our door is at all times open to these with worthwhile contributions to make on this necessary and quickly evolving debate.”
World Rugby, together with the Rugby Soccer Union and Welsh Rugby Union, is presently going through a declare from former gamers suing authorities for mind harm.