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English Rugby
Dallaglio backs rolling replacements
September 30, 2009

Lawrence Dallaglio believes that a new trial of rolling replacements could have serious benefits in terms of eradicating cheating from the game and player welfare.

The recommendation was one of16 made by the RFU's 'Image of the Game' task-group on Wednesday as a reaction to the Harlequins' 'Bloodgate' scandal and five drugs-related bans at Bath.

The group found no evidence that cheating was endemic in rugby, but did suggest that there were enough instances of "inappropriate behaviour" to support closing certain loopholes in the laws.

The panel received evidence from 129 professional players, 10% of whom had either seen or participated in the faking of a blood injury at club level at least once.

That figure rises to 41% for players who had either witnessed club-mates feign injuries to force uncontested scrums or done it themselves. Harlequins also admitted that one of their fake blood injuries had been used to give the team doctor time to evaluate a head injury.

"There is a recommendation that once this has been discussed by the relevant governing bodies that we introduce a trial next year at the top level, which would mean the Guinness Premiership," said Dallalgio. "The safety of the players is paramount. We are involved in a high impact, high collision, fast game.

"As laws currently stand, a medical officer only has 90 seconds to assess a player who takes a bang on the head. If he is not bleeding he has to leave the field permanently and that is not in the best interests of the game at large.

"We are tempting teams to go beyond the laws by certain loopholes. The issue of rolling substitutions needs to be discussed and it needs input from people who would know how fundamentally it would change the game. But you have to say that from a safety aspect the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks."

Rugby league already operates a system of rolling substitutions, where each side may make 12 interchanges from a four-man bench.

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