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Rugby evening headlines as inquiry into Wales match slammed as whitewash

Your rugby evening headlines for Friday, February 25.

Tomas Francis HIA enquiry slammed

The enquiry into the handling of Tomas Francis’ head injury during Wales’ defeat to England last month has been panned by lobby group Progressive Rugby.

During the game at Twickenham, the tight-head prop clashed heads during a tackle and was removed from the field for a head injury assessment and later returned to the field having passed it.

The incident provoked a fierce reaction, with many feeling that Francis displayed symptoms that should have warranted his immediate and permanent removal.

Read next:The other Welsh rugby players who could now replace Six Nations squad members

A review into the incident was conducted by a panel of experts, which included the Welsh Rugby Union’s own doctor, Prav Mathema.

The review found that Francis should have been immediately and permanently removed from the field, rather than being subjected to a HIA.

The published report, which you can read more about here, states ‘a number of factors’ contributed to Francis’ immediate symptoms being missed and, as such, no disciplinary action was taken.

“That Tomas Francis should have been removed permanently was never in doubt,” a spokesperson for Progressive Rugby said.

“However, despite acknowledging Francis did suffer a concussion the panel have failed to address the fact Francis then passed a HIA and was allowed to return to the field of play.

“These potentially catastrophic errors clearly demonstrate the HIA process cannot be used to exclude concussion and therefore cannot be considered a suitable protocol for protecting players.

“Sadly, the focus of this enquiry would seem to be an exercise in the avoidance of apportioning blame rather than on the wellbeing of the players.”

It should be noted, however, that the enquiry did not find that Francis suffered a concussion. It found that ‘obvious on-pitch signs of concussion’, to quote World Rugby’s protocols, were missed.

Were they spotted, Francis would not have undergone a HIA. But it should also be noted that the prop passed his in-game assessment and the routine subsequent assessments in the days that followed the match.

Six Nations Team of the Championship

The Six Nations Team of the Championship has been confirmed and, perhaps unsurprisingly, there is no Welsh representation on the list.

As Grand Slam champions, France dominate proceedings, with a smattering of players from England and Ireland thrown in to balance things out a little bit.

The team was elected by supporters in a poll conducted by tournament organisers, that attracted over 1 million votes.

Team of the Championship: Huge Keenan (Ire); Damian Penaud (Fra), Gael Fickou (Fra), Jonathan Danty (Fra), Gabin Villiere (Fra), Romain Ntamack (Fra), Antoine Dupont (Fra); Cyril Baille (Fra), Julien Marchand (Fra), Tadhg Furlong (Ire), Maro Itoje (Eng), Paul Willemse (Fra); Francois Cros (Fra), Josh van der Flier, Gregory Alldritt (Fra).

Dupont takes Player of the Championship

It will also come as little surprise that France scrum-half and captain Antoine Dupont has been named player of the 2022 Six Nations.

Dupont played a key role in France’s success, setting up tries and scoring them throughout the championship.

He became the first Frenchman to win the award back in 2020 and joins the likes of Brian O’Driscoll and Stuart Hogg in claiming it multiple times.

The winner of the award was voted for by the fans.

Dupont said: “It’s always a pleasure and point of pride to receive prizes but it’s difficult because it’s a team sport. There are 15 of us on the pitch, 23 in the matchday squad and 50-60 who prepare for these games and these wins. I really want to thank my teammates today.”

Worcester fail to raise a team

Worcester Warriors have had to cancel their match against Gloucester this evening after failing to scramble together a side.

In a turn of events more regularly seen at amateur level, the Sixways side were unable to put a team together due to a combination of injury and illness.

It led to an angry statement from Gloucester, who were due to host the match at Kingsholm.

A statement from the Cherry and Whites read: “Gloucester Rugby is extremely disappointed to confirm that tonight’s fixture against Worcester Warriors has been cancelled, following a forfeit by the opposition.

“Worcester Warriors have stated that they are unable to field a team due to a combination of injuries and illness.

“An independent Panel will now be convened to decide the points allocation and that decision will be communicated in due course but Premiership Rugby have confirmed the match will not be replayed.

“Gloucester Rugby would like to extend its deepest apologies to our supporters. While this is not a matter which the Club were able to influence despite best efforts, we recognise the significant disruption this causes for both sets of supporters, players and staff.

“The Club will work with Premiership Rugby and the RFU as a matter of urgency to determine next steps, after which point, we will be in touch with Club Members and ticket purchasers to confirm the refund process.

“As ever we thank you for your patience and understanding. We can’t wait to see you back at Kingsholm soon.”

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