You may remember Wales and France bludgeoning their way to a farce at the end of last year's Six Nations. Ireland/England had to be delayed as the game preceding kick off at the Aviva lasted more than a hundred minutes, as two international sides failed to string together an acceptable scrum. In spite of each scrum collapsing, Wayne Barnes did not do the merciful thing and take everyone out of their suffering by giving a penalty try, claiming that the French scrum was not edging forward. But this proved to farce seasoned with fury. In order to beef up that scrum, France engaged in allegedly underhand tactics: they replaced prop Uini Atonio with Rabah Slimani, claiming that Atonio needed a HIA which the Welsh believed he did not need.
Eight months on, Wales proved that they at least learned from their experiences. They were thoroughly unconvincing in a 13-6 win against Georgia yesterday evening, and the Wales tactics against Georgia were redolent of those deployed by the French. Georgia's prime attacking weapon, of course, is their scrum, and Wales did their best to disabuse them of it. Two minutes into injury time, Wales prop Thomas Francis was sent to the sin bin.
Rather than reintroduce either of their props Nicky Smith and Leon Brown - both subbed earlier in the game - Wales sent on hooker Kristian Dacey, meaning that the remaining scrums were uncontested. This proved to be mightily controversial, as both men had stripped off their tracksuits and began warming up to come on, before it was relayed to the referee that both had cramp and were unable to return.
Georgia, with no scrum to base their attack on, elected to kick to the corner, and were penalised at the breakdown as they drove their way to the try line.
Gatland denied any skulduggery after the game: "I can promise you there was nothing from our point of view to manipulate the laws. If Leon had been fit he would have gone back on".
Georgia's head coach Milton Haig merely smiled ruefully: "Two players developed cramp at the same time?".