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It shouldn't ever happen again - Wales coach Howley enraged by France

By Iain Strachan
Dan Biggar reacts to Wales’ defeat in Paris

Rob Howley has questioned the integrity of France’s coaching staff and claims rugby was brought into disrepute during Wales’ controversial Six Nations defeat in Paris on Saturday.

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An extraordinary 20 minutes of added time were played at Stade de France due to an accumulation of stoppages, including the return to the field of prop Rabah Slimani in place of Uini Atonio, who ostensibly went off to undergo a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) amid apparent concussion concerns.

Howley, though, is adamant the change in personnel was engineered by the hosts to gain an advantage, Les Bleus duly crossing right at the death to win it 20-18.

“Integrity in our game is pretty important,” a furious Howley told reporters after the match.

“Player welfare is equally important and over the last two or three years, concussion has been at the forefront of our game.

“[But] what happened in the last moments of that game, shouldn’t ever happen again. The process that saw the French tighthead [Atonio] come off was hugely disappointing.

“[Slimani was] warming up prior to him going back on. One of the coaches had a word with their doctor and within a minute of that their tighthead [Atonio] went off. The evidence suggests that it’s not in the integrity of our game.”

Asked whose integrity he was questioning, Howley replied: “I think the integrity of the French management team. Wayne Barnes is a referee and he’s told a HIA needs to take place, he trusts that information.”

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Pressed on whether or not the incident amounted to cheating, he said: “No, I just question the integrity of the decision that was made. If you want to call it that, it’s up to you. We love our game but what we witnessed in the last 10 minutes, I haven’t seen that before in the international game.

“Someone has come outside the technical area and the doctor has gone onto the field. That’s outside the laws of the game. You can hear Wayne Barnes ask him 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.

“It’s too early to talk about sanctions. You can imagine the emotional attachment at this time. I don’t know what can be done. The integrity of the game has been brought into disrepute.”

For his part, France coach Guy Noves insisted the home team’s coaches were merely exercising their duty of care over Atonio.

“They told me he was injured so I had to do my responsibilities,” he said.

“Also, if you look closely, Wales made several substitutions in that time. Well I don’t really know how he is right now.

“We’ll do a medical check-up obviously. I hope the injury is not too serious and he will be able to play soon.

“We’ve just won a match against a splendid Welsh team. If the injury is not life-threatening, we want to celebrate.”

The furore over Slimani’s reintroduction was not the only controversy, with Howley also adamant George North had been bitten by an opponent late in the contest.

“The evidence suggests there is a bite,” he said.

“The referee only had one angle. I’m sure you can ask George if you can have a look at his arm. There is evidence to suggest that there is a bite.”

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B.J. Spratt 4 hours ago
Jono Gibbes' reaction to France U20s putting 55 points on New Zealand

N.Z. Under 20'‘s concede 7 tries to France Unfortunately New Zealand Rugby has lost over 25% + of players between 12-18 over the last 3-5 years, possibly more. Poor administration and a Shocking Public Perception about the NZRFU has finally caught up with these dinosaurs. 66% of N.Z. Population lives North of Hamilton and 52% of Auckland population are Asian, who would rather play football. Rugby is dying while other Sports are growing. The rules need to change around the collision/tackle but personally I think the absolute “Arrogance and Stupidity” that the NZRFU has demonstrated over the decades, “with their jobs for the boys attitude” has led to their demise. A Professional Players Union that can somehow “Disassociate itself from the “Old men with bad breath and dandruff” that is the NZRFU, will be a huge challenge. Personally I think it’s far too late to recover and rejuvenate interest in Rugby by young players. Rugby is booming in France and that’s the difference. A booming Professional domestic League. NZRFU are “Not fit for purpose” and have no idea about commercial reality My kids generation would rather their kids don’t play Rugby. Very aware of CTE and the NZRFU arrogance and stupidity, in denying its existence. Finally, the NZRFU have managed to cover up ”Numerous serious crimes over the decades, committed by players, coaches and administrators simply because the tentacles of their “Power and Influence” have reached all sectors of New Zealand Society, including the Judiciary, Politicians, Police and Big business. Denying CTE even exists is a “no brainer for them”

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