The French were accused of exploiting rugby's HIA rules in the dying minutes of their harrowing defeat to Ireland last Saturday when they replaced scrum-half Antoine Dupont with their starting number nine, Maxime Machenaud.
While replays showed that Dupont suffered a knee injury, referee Nigel Owens was informed by the independent match doctor - via a French official - that Dupont had suffered a head injury. That allowed France to replace Dupont with first-choice Machenaud. Johnny Sexton led the angry refutations from Irish players on the pitch, with Brian O'Driscoll tweeting after the game that "Just because we won with an INCREDIBLE 42 METER drop goal that HIA decision shouldn’t get swept under the carpet. It was nothing short of a disgrace!!!".
The Six Nations confirmed after the game that they were reviewing the incident.
While the French have been universally condemned for a deliberate flouting of the rules Sky Sports pundit Will Greenwood is approaching the debate from a different angle, claiming that France did not deliberately manipulate the law, but instead made a genuine mistake.
His reasoning drew on the fact that Machenaud did not take the subsequent penalty that Anthony Belleau skewed against the post. When asked on Sky Sports whether this was a case of the French getting up to mischief in relation to the rule, Greenwood replied, "No, no, no, no, no, no", saying that everyone "can't just jump on a bandwagon".
He's gone down. There's a lad on the floor, not moving, by a ruck. The doctor's going to say in the ear, we need to check that with HIA. Once youve done that, you're not then going to say, 'actually he's done his knee'. You need to check for HIA.
Further Greenwood quotes on the matter were tweeted out by Sky Sports.
'So commentators, media - everyone who said afterwards "the French are up to skulduggery" got it completely wrong?' '100%'. WATCH @WillGreenwood discusses Saturday's controversial #NatWest6Nations #FRAvIRE HIA in the latest #TheOffload: https://t.co/yf0oMWfbTB pic.twitter.com/T8IhuEDiR6
— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) February 7, 2018