Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Wales coach Rob Howley accuses France of 'undermining game's integrity'

Wales coach Rob Howley accuses France of 'undermining game's integrity'

Nobody at Stade de France could claim they did not get their money's worth after one of the most freakish games of rugby ever seen in the Six Nations.

It all started with a replacement.

Lock Yoann Maestri felt Barnes should have awarded France a penalty try for its outright dominance in the scrum.

And a shoulder injury to captain Alun Wyn Jones means the second row will be anxious about his place for this summer's Lions tour to New Zealand.

I know Wayne (Barnes), I've been in his changing room a couple of times to talk about that process and the evidence suggests that it's not in the integrity of our game.

The French camped out in the Welsh 22m area and a series of scrums saw frontrow players from both sides come and go.

Howley claims the referee, Wayne Barnes, could be heard asking Atonio if he was all right, just before the doctor came on to remove him. Nothing comes of the attack though so France will have yet another penalty, and Barnes gives Warburton another warning.

France eventually made it over in the 100th minute of the match. Match ends at 99:55.

Pressed on whether or not the incident amounted to cheating, he said: "No, I just question the integrity of the decision that was made".

France's team doctor said Uini Atonio needed to go off for a head injury assessment, meaning Rabah Slimani came back on for the final few minutes.

"[Slimani was] warming up prior to him going back on". Prop Samson Lee was sin-binned in the 82nd minute and returned with play still going. If the prop is complaining about a head injury, player welfare is important. It's here where World Rugby need to clear up the ruling on time management by the officials, otherwise similar instances can and will occur. But controversy would arise once more before play could resume.

Six Nations Rugby have announced that France could face punishment over an alleged bite on Wales winger George North during Saturday's incident-packed Six Nations clash. But the Welsh kept on conceding penalty after penalty in added time.

If a French player is found to have bitten North he could be banned for up to 15 weeks and acting Wales coach Rob Howley said: "It's gone to the television match official".

France felt the game should have been brought to a close sooner with a penalty try as Wales were repeatedly penalised at the scrum, while the visitors focused their ire on a substitution they said damaged the game's integrity.

Lopez missed an early penalty and spurned a second attempt to go for touch deep in the Welsh 22m line after a clean break from unheralded La Rochelle flanker Kevin Gourdon, one of the finds of the championship.

Finally, something similar to a game of rugby would resume, and Chouly would score the all-important try for the French, though that did not stop the stadium announcer giving Camille Chat the credit.

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