Wales coach suggests rule changes that would take away the Springboks' weapons

Wales coach suggests rule changes that would take away the Springboks' weapons

Wales head coach Warren Gatland wants World Rugby to implement some rule changes which seem suspiciously aimed at taking away some of the Springboks' tactical weapons.

They include taking the away the mark, which can be called when a high kick is gathered inside your own 22, and limiting replacements to injuries only.

Both were key components of the world champion Boks' armoury, who used those tactics to great effect during their run to the title in October.

Gatland wants the game "to review how we use replacements", with the Wales head coach insisting that fatigue is becoming less of a factor in the game.

With this plan, it would prevent the likes of the Boks from using their 'Bomb Squad', which proved hugely significant in their 2019 and 2023 World Cup victories.

"The game is producing incredibly powerful athletes and when you see teams like South Africa at the World Cup name a bench with seven forwards and just one back, it means that your forwards only have to play for 40 minutes. That was not what it was intended for," Gatland wrote in his Telegraph column.

"Rugby used to be about attempting to tire out a forward pack so that the space opened up in the final 20 minutes and there were more opportunities to attack.

"We are not seeing that at the moment because of the number of replacements and the incredible athletes we are producing.

"I think the time has come to trial a reduction in the number of replacements or even a return to when they were only for injuries. This ruling may just apply to top-level or international rugby."

The Springboks also devised the radical plan of calling for a scrum after taking a mark inside their 22 to try and use their dominant set-piece to win penalties.

It might also have played a role in teams kicking shorter to them, helping South Africa to win the territory battle in the key moments.

However, if Gatland had his way, the mark would be done away with altogether.

"I am not sure there is a need for it anymore," he added.

"It just slows the game down and takes some of the jeopardy out of putting high balls up into the opposition 22."

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