Drama dumbfounds Jonathan Davies

Centre Jonathan Davies has claimed “it just didn’t seem right” after Wales’ RBS 6 Nations campaign ended in controversial and crushing fashion against France.

The ball breaks to France's Noa Nakaitaci after his teammate is taken down by two Welsh defenders. Picture: Donall Farmer/Inpho

France 20
Wales 18

Wales were beaten 20-18, conceding a try and 100th-minute conversion in a game that could now be investigated by Six Nations chiefs after a chaotic finale.

Wales’ interim head coach Rob Howley said the “integrity of the game had been brought into disrepute” after France replacement prop Uini Atonio went off for a head injury assessment, with starting tighthead Rabah Slimani then returning during a remarkable 20 minutes of second-half stoppage time.

Slimani had earlier been replaced but the France team doctor insisted that Atonio needed an HIA, therefore allowing Slimani to go back on as France laid siege to Wales’ line through a series of scrums.

“It was a very long extra time, if you call it that,” Wales star Davies said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow. It was disappointing how it ended.

“Of course, if the prop is complaining about a head injury, player welfare is important. It just didn’t seem right, in my opinion.”

Howley, meanwhile, did not hold back in his assessment of what he felt took place.

“What happened in the last 10 minutes of that game shouldn’t ever happen again on an international rugby field,” he said.

“The process leading up to the change of the French tighthead, the way that occurred, we love our game too much to have those decisions. It is hugely disappointing.

“The process that occurred prior to him warming up before going back on, one of their (France’s) coaches went outside the technical area, had a word with their doctor and within a minute of that, he went on and took their tighthead off.

“The evidence suggests that it’s not in the integrity of our game.

“The referee (Englishman Wayne Barnes) is told an HIA needs to take place, and he trusts that information. It wasn’t his fault in the last 10 minutes. He has listened to a medic.”

Six Nations bosses look likely to probe the events, and France could face disciplinary action if anything is proven against them.

Howley added: “We will look over the whole footage. A lot of it is on microphone as well. It is pretty obvious what happened.

“There is a technical area, and you are not allowed outside that technical area. Someone has come outside and the doctor has gone on to the field at a break in play.

“That is outside the laws of the game.”

Asked to confirm that Wales had seen an official leave the technical area, brief the doctor and then the doctor run on to the field without going on to treat anybody, Howley said: “Yes. And in between that you can hear Wayne Barnes ask him (Atonio) if he’s okay, and the player says ‘I’ve got a sore back, I’m okay’ and then the doctor comes on and the player goes off.

Meanwhile Wales are waiting to hear if any action will be taken after claiming there was “evidence to suggest” wing George North had been bitten during Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations clash against France.

Any available video footage proved inconclusive after match referee Wayne Barnes stopped the game amid 20 minutes of added time at Stade de France.

No on-pitch action followed, but match citing commissioner John Montgomery has until 5pm today to decide whether a disciplinary hearing is convened.

France scorers:

Tries: Lamerat, Chat. Cons: Lopez 2. Pens: Lopez 2.

FRANCE:

Dulin, Nakaitaci, Lamerat, Fickou, Vakatawa, Lopez, Serin, Baille, Guirado, Slimani, Vahaamahina, Maestri, Sanconnie, Gourdon, Picamoles.

Replacements:

Huget for Vakatawa (54), Trinh-Duc for Lopez (33), Dupont for Serin (19), Ben Arous for Baille (55), Chat for Guirado (72), Atonio for Slimani (55), Le Devedec for Vahaamahina (78), Chouly for Sanconnie (55).

Wales Scorers:

Pens: Halfpenny 6.

WALES:

Halfpenny, North, J. Davies, S. Williams, L. Williams, Biggar, Webb, Evans, Owens, Francis, Ball, A. Jones, Warburton, Tipuric, Moriarty. Replacements:

Roberts for S. Williams (54), Smith for Evans (80), Lee for Francis (60), Baldwin for Ball (60), Charteris for A. Jones (52), Faletau for Moriarty (54).

Referee:

Wayne Barnes (England).

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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