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Six Nations to further probe French head injury assessments

Six Nations to further probe French head injury assessments

Six Nations bosses decided on Monday to further investigate two controversial head injury protocol incidents during Ireland’s victory in France on Saturday following an initial review.

French half-backs Matthieu Jalibert and Antoine Dupont both left the field during the game due to knee ligament injuries but were also sent for head injury assessments (HIAs).

In the second case – that of replacement scrum-half Dupont – it meant that he could be replaced by a player who had already been substituted.

Starting scrum-half Maxime Machenaud came back onto the pitch, whereas France would have been forced to field replacement wing Benjamin Fall instead had the HIA not been called.

That was a decision that retired Ireland great Brian O’Driscoll described on Twitter as a “disgrace”.

Following an “initial review” by the Six Nations Rugby Limited’s [SNRL] Review Processor, two incidents from the match have been referred to the HIA Review Panel.

The panel has the power to take “disciplinary action”, SNRL said, as well as make other recommendations.

Greater controversy over the Dupont substitution was avoided as Ireland’s Johnny Sexton kicked a match-winning drop goal deep into overtime, but it revived memories of another controversial head injury incident involving France during last season’s tournament.

France managed to get prop Rabah Slimani back onto the field late on before eventually beating Wales following 20 minutes of overtime.

A France team medic that day had told referee Wayne Barnes that replacement prop Uini Atonio needed an HIA, meaning the team could bring Slimani back on rather than finish the game with 14 players, having already used all their subs.

After the Ireland match, France coach Jacques Brunel said it was an independent medic who had made the HIA calls.

SNRL said it would take several days to reach a decision.

Ireland host Italy for their second match of this year’s competition on Saturday, while France travel to Scotland a day later.

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