Written by Callum Walker
Substitutes; they are there to do a job, but what happens when the game gets faster as it is doing under the new rules? Well, there is a plan in the pipeline to increase the number of substitutes back up to ten instead of the current eight.
That number was reduced in order to improve the fitness of teams, but under the conditions at present, the game is getting faster. Statistics produced by Super League demonstrated that the ball was in play for 63 minutes and 20 seconds per game since the resumption. That amounts to an increase of ten minutes and seven seconds per game as compared to matches held before lockdown.
Inevitably, that has led to players tackling more and taking more carries, and thus, increasing the workload of those on the field. That is bad enough on its own, but with Super League games coming thick and fast in the next few weeks and months – with two fixtures a week soon to be making its way in to the mix – there are certainly fears that injuries will soon mount up.
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) August 25, 2020
A proposal to increase the number of substitutes in a bid to protect the players has been met with mixed responses from clubs. The plan would be short-term, and wouldn’t go any further than this season. Some, however, have highlighted the potential repercussions it would have on next season’s competition as well as damaging the integrity of this year’s Super League with yet another major rule change.
But, does the sport really want some of its key stars getting injured when such a move as to increase the amount of substitutes would help alleviate the potential problem?
There’s no harm in trialling a move for one week to see if the game responds positively. It may seem as though there are a lot of rule changes at present, but in unprecedented times as these, the sport needs to be proactive not reactive. What’s the good in increasing the number of substitutes once players are sat on the sideline?