France will not be punished by the Six Nations authorities after a review of two incidents found no attempt to use the heard injury assessment (HIA) protocol to seek competitive advantage.
French half-backs Matthieu Jalibert and Antoine Dupont both left the field during France’s agonising 15-13 defeat to Ireland on February 3 with knee ligament injuries but were also sent for HIAs.
In Dupont’s case it meant that he could be replaced by a player who had already been replaced.
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 invoked.
“The HIA protocol revision panel have confirmed that the decisions were taken totally independently without any link to the French team, nor any intention to try and gain an advantage for the French team,” the French Rugby Federation (FFR) said in a statement on Thursday.
Six Nations Rugby said that although the players had not sustained concussions, the decisions to call for a HIA was made by the match doctor and not anyone formally connected to the French team.
However, they recommended the issue be referred to World Rugby to ensure the protocol put in place for players’ safety is not abused in the future.
“The HIA Review Panel also recommended certain issues be clarified in the future to try to avoid similar cases arising, and Six Nations Rugby will be liaising with World Rugby and the relevant parties on those issues,” Six Nations Rugby said in a statement.