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Johnson backs substitution change

England manager Martin Johnson
Johnson said rolling substitutions would be better for player safety

England manager Martin Johnson says rugby league-style rolling replacements are needed in rugby union.

The Rugby Football Union is considering experimenting with interchanges from next season to ensure Harlequins' fake-blood scandal can never be repeated.

"Some form of rolling substitutions needs to be looked at," he said.

"I liked it when 15 guys had to battle it out and you had to be fit for 80 minutes, but you come around to thinking about it as a possibility."

The controversial proposal was one of 16 recommendations in a report drawn up by the RFU's Image Of The Game task force, which aims to restore rugby union's reputation after the blood and drugs scandals of the summer.


Johnson also said he agreed with the panel's suggestion that rolling replacements would benefit player welfare, as they would allow potential cases of concussion to be properly diagnosed.

"Player safety is an issue with players getting bangs on the head," he said.

"It needs to be looked at carefully and I am sure it will be trialled. Maybe it is inevitable."

As the rules stand, a temporary replacement is only permitted if a player has a blood injury. However, the rule was abused last season when Harlequins winger Tom Williams went off with fake blood coming from his mouth to be replaced by Nick Evans.

Johnson is concerned the existing rules can lead to a player staying on the pitch with concussion.

Phil Vickery needing a long lay-off after he suffered serious concussion in England's Six Nations win over Scotland this year, an incident which was hard to diagnose at the time.

"At the time, in the first 90 seconds, our doctor said it was difficult for him to diagnose how bad Phil was, whether he was just dazed or badly concussed," said Johnson.

"Fortunately, at the time Phil needed treatment for a cut so he could come off for a blood injury and have time to be assessed properly.

"When that was done it was obvious that no way was he going back on a rugby field that day or even for quite a while."

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see also
Cheating not widespread, says RFU
30 Sep 09 |  English
Dallaglio named in RFU task force
28 Aug 09 |  English
Physio Brennan quits England post
22 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Richards ban to extend worldwide
18 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
I ordered blood scam - Richards
19 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Richards banned for three years
17 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Quins sorry for fake injury saga
12 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Richards resigns Harlequins post
08 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Quins substitution under scrutiny
17 Apr 09 |  Harlequins

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