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

Posted March 20, 2017

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.

France got off to a rocking start, in Paris, when Camille Lopez teed up Remi Lamerat for a try with a superb, weighted chip over the Welsh defence.

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.

We're into the final minute as France opt to go for the scrum from the penalty after there was no advantage coming.

He said Barnes, "as a good referee should", had asked Atonio four times "are you injured?". Match ends at 99:55.

Not only was Slimani seen warming up minutes before going back on, Howley said, but "one of their coaches outside the technical area had a conversation with their doctor and within a minute of that obviously he'd got on and taken the tighthead off. that's outside the laws of the game". How coincidental. That Atonio walked down the tunnel alone, without a medic for the HIA, did not go unnoticed. Atonio is going to have to leave the field for a HIA and is replaced by Slimani.

Afterward, Rob Howley was furious, questioning the French integrity.

Lee's sin bin is over so he returns to the field along with Halfpenny, with Francis heading back to the bench for the second time.

Referee Wayne Barnes awards the winning try.

It is unclear what punishment will be meted out if it is revealed that Atonio did not need to be replaced.

France beat Wales for the first time since the 2011 Rugby World Cup semifinals, ending a run of five losses. But controversy would arise once more before play could resume.

"In the event that he wishes to make a citing complaint in respect of the alleged bite (or any other incident), because he considers that there was an act of foul play that warranted a red card, he is required to do so within 48 hours after the conclusion of the match (although in certain circumstances, for example where he is uncertain as to the identity of the player (s) concerned, he is permitted to make his citing complaint after the 48-hour deadline)". "But they (the Welsh) were rigging every scrum", Maestri said.

The word "cheating" was used very frequently in the post-match press conference but, hard as he was pressed, Rob Howley, Wales's interim head coach refused to utter the "C" word himself.

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.

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. Their points total and tries scored is the lowest since 2008.