Six Nations 2022: Wales Coach Wayne Pivac defends the decision to pick Tomas Francis for France

Tomas Francis (L) reels after colliding with Owen Watkin (R) while they attempt to tackle Charlie Ewels
After colliding with Owen Watkin, Tomas Francis (L), reels as they attempt to tackle Charlie Ewels
Venue:Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Friday, March 11 Kick-off:20:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC iPlayer or online at 19:30 GMT; listen to BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Wales; text commentary available on BBC Sport website, app.

Wayne Pivac, Wales' head coach has defended his decision to select Tomas Francis to face France at Cardiff's Six Nations on Friday.

After suffering a head injury against England, Pivac claims that the prop was cleared by an independent concussion specialist.

Dr. John Fairclough, a leading doctor, said that it would be a “grave mistake” for Wales to select Francis.

Pivac said, “We've got an extremely experienced medical team who are world class experts in their field.”

Ospreys front-row Francis collided at Twickenham with Owen Watkin in the 20th minute during the 23-19 defeat to England.

Television footage showed Francis standing up after a head-to-head collision. He was also seen leaning against the post pads to support himself.

The 29-year old was taken off the pitch to undergo a head injury assessment. He passed the exam and returned to play until the 56th minute.

Progressive Rugby is a player welfare lobby group wrote an open letterSix Nations Rugby is currently reviewing the episode and expressed concern to World Rugby, Welsh Rugby Union, (WRU), last week.

Francis and Cardiff wing Josh Adams were both injured in a match against England. They have been cleared to play at the Principality Stadium when France visits on Friday.

Pivac claimed that Wales went to great lengths to make Francis fit for the game by bringing in a top concussion expert to evaluate the ex-Exeter player.

He said that both Josh and Tomas were seen by the medical team following the game. The follow-up protocols and return to play guidelines established by World Rugby were closely followed.

“They've made it through each step of these processes perfectly.

“We have gone above and beyond with Tomas to get an independent concussion specialist involved.

He has the player's history and he also looked at footage from the match. He has been through the protocols that we have followed, which are World Rugby protocols.

“He supports the player, it is obvious that he should be selected.” Based on this, and in consultation, we have decided to pick him.”

Outsiders have voiced criticism about Francis' situation.

Pivac said, “People can express their views and they are entitled to do so.”

“Everyone has the right to their opinion. But the experts on the ground dealing with concussion are doing it every day and are experts in the field.

“We need to be focused on what's at stake and that's the safety of our players.

“We follow the strict protocols that we are required to.

“We have an experienced medical team. Adding the independent person to that makes it clear how serious we are.

“The consultation process includes the player throughout. I don't believe any player enjoys being in the limelight for these kinds of things.

He's hard at work, head down and backside upward. He believes he is good to go.

“He has followed the processes and trusted the people who set them up.”

Professor Fairclough is the most vocal critic of Twickenham's incident. He said Francis would be at “unnecessary risks of serious harm” in a case against France.

He is a former WRU worker and is regarded as a top orthopaedic surgeon.

Pivac added, “With no disrespect for the gentleman you are referring to, we're going with experts on concussion.”

“I know that he was a prominent surgeon in another area of his body. We have done everything we can and the decision is made.

“It's not an easy decision, because players' health and well-being is paramount.

“That's why experts are consulted and given all the details.”

Dan Biggar watches a shot at goal
Northampton fly-half Dan Biggar made a debut against Canada in 2008

Captain Dan Biggar has supported the Wales medical team.

“The circus surrounding it is probably larger than what it actually is.” [for] ourselves,” said Biggar.

“We're fortunate to have a team that takes no unnecessary risks. Their first port of call is safety and health.

“Because this is a serious and major issue, it will always get hyped up.

“If Franny didn't want to play, he wouldn’t be involved.

“He has passed all tests and been viewed by independent people. We have complete faith in the process and are ready to move on.

“There will always be people with opinions. He should follow the protocol, so I don't believe we should make too much of it.

“We're not experts in those areas, that's not what we do. It's a matter of ‘let's get on with it'. He has been declared fit.

Progressive Rugby has criticized the HIA process for not being fit for purpose, but Pivac and Biggar disagree.

Pivac said that leading experts were involved with the creation of those protocols.

“I believe they're [fit for purpose]They will not change until we are satisfied, as they have been with us for a long time.

Biggar said, “I can only speak from personal experience, we're well taken care of.”

“All players are happy with the current system and protocol.

“We just keep going and let others sort it out.”

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