Tony Ward has proposed that rugby union follows the lead of its league counterparts by cutting the players on a team from 15 down to 13.
Writing in The Independent, Ward argues that the growing size and pace of players in all positions has led to there being less room on the pitch which in turn has led to less free-flowing matches. He cites the French as an example, a nation that was traditionally known for their flair - 'winning rugby with a smile' as Ward calls it. That is not the case with the current French team, many will argue its due to the signing policy of clubs in France but Ward argues the amount of players on the field has as much to answer for.
But these days, when it comes down to the key factor of creating space, the innovators have no chance. It is now easier than ever to close off space rather than create it."
Ward is not the first person to make this suggestion and it is certainly an interesting proposal that will hopefully create some debate. It is possibly worth trialing in some lower level or non-competitive games to see if it does result in more free-flowing rugby and higher scores.
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