How rugby union became about much more than the first XV

England scrum
A tactical switch at scrum time played a key role Credit: AFP

One to fifteen were always the numbers that counted. Not today, and not in the words of Eddie Jones, who continues to change our rugby vocabulary. 

'Finishers' is his new term. In old money they are the substitutes, the bench, the sweet eaters. But as rugby has progressed, players who sit on the bench are no longer just pre-match pad carriers. Warren Gatland and John Olver, two great hookers who in modern times may have had 50 caps each, had to sit and watch Sean Fitzpatrick and Brian Moore for far longer than they would have liked. 

Those days are gone. Some teams like Saracens have rotated scrum-halves on the 50-minute mark, no matter the state of play, ensuring that two scrum-halves go through the season fit and well. Most teams throw on the props after 50 or 60 minutes for a fresh injection of leg power at scrum time, and no doubt for the preservation of the body, back and neck. Most...


Subscribe now for full access or register to continue reading

Subscribe now for full access or register to continue

Register / free

No Payment details required

  • One Premium article per week
  • Newsletters and daily briefings
  • Comment on articles

Premium / 30-day free trial

then only £2 per week, cancel anytime

  • Unlimited Premium articles
  • Exclusive Subscriber Events
  • Enjoy Telegraph Rewards
  • Comment on articles
  • Newsletters and daily briefings
  • Complimentary digital access to The Washington Post
  • Find out more
Premium Promo
Subscribe today and explore Europe with Avios
Collect up to 20,000 Avios with an annual subscription
Terms and conditions apply
Please review our commenting policy