Fu­ri­ous How­ley ques­tions French ‘in­tegrity’

New Straits Times - - Sport -

PARIS: Wales coach Rob How­ley was fum­ing over a con­tro­ver­sial sub­sti­tu­tion and a bit­ing al­le­ga­tion dur­ing his team’s last-gasp 20-18 de­feat by France in the Six Na­tions on Satur­day.

France scored a try 20 min­utes after the end of nor­mal time to seal vic­tory after a bizarre end chaotic end to the game.

How­ley said re­place­ment prop Uini Ato­nio’s sub­sti­tu­tion by starter Rabah Sli­mani in stop­page time was un­law­ful and that there was ev­i­dence Welsh winger Ge­orge North had been bit­ten.

“The in­tegrity of the game has been brought into dis­re­pute,” How­ley told a news con­fer­ence.

“What hap­pened in the last mo­ments of that game shouldn’t ever hap­pen again. One of the coaches had a word with their doc­tor and within a minute of that, their tight­head went off. The ev­i­dence sug­gests that it’s not in the in­tegrity of our game.”

Sli­mani had ear­lier been re­placed but he was al­lowed back on when Ato­nio went off for a head in­jury as­sess­ment.

How­ley be­lieves the sub­sti­tu­tion was planned, sug­gest­ing that Sli­mani should not have been al­lowed to come on again.

“Sli­mani warm­ing up prior to him go­ing back on. One of their coaches out­side the tech­ni­cal area had a con­ver­sa­tion with the doc­tor, and within a minute of it, the tight­head was taken off,” How­ley said.

“There is a tech­ni­cal area and you are not al­lowed out­side that. Ul­ti­mately, some­one has come out­side that and al­lowed the doc­tor to go on at a break in play, which is out­side the laws of the game.”

France coach Guy Noves said his team had fol­lowed due process.

“They told me he was in­jured so I took my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,” he said.

North claimed that he was bit­ten dur­ing the clos­ing stages of the match.

“It’s gone to the TMO (tele­vi­sion match of­fi­cial). The ev­i­dence was in­con­clu­sive in terms of the im­ages that were shown to the ref­er­ees and ul­ti­mately they’ve made a de­ci­sion on that and it’s ab­so­lutely fine,” How­ley said.

“I am 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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