Six Nations 2022: Wales warns against picking Tomas Francis for France

Tomas Francis (L) reels after colliding with Owen Watkin (R) while they attempt to tackle Charlie Ewels
Tomas Francis (L), struggles to reel after colliding and Owen Watkin(R) as they attempt Charlie Ewels.
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Friday, March 11 Kick-off:20:00 GMT
Coverage: Live streaming on BBC One, BBC iPlayer, and online starting at 19:30 GMT. Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, and BBC Radio Cymru. Text commentary on the BBC Sport app and website.

“Grave error” was the description of the decision to declare Tomas Francis, Wales prop, fit to face France in Cardiff's Six Nations on Friday.

After suffering head injuries in the defeat of England by Wales on 26 February, Francis, Owen Watkin, and Josh Adams were all subject to concussion protocols.

Professor John Fairclough believes that Francis is at “unnecessary” risk of serious injury if Francis is selected.

Gethin Jenkins, Wales defence coach, expected the trio of players to train Monday.

Jenkins stated that all three players have been through the concussion protocol and returned to play. He said that they are now expected to be in training today to prepare for Friday's game.

“We worry when they have protocols to follow. It's quite a stringent process.

“We have lost people because of that in the past, and it is unfortunate. It's a great boost to know that we all have three options.

France should not be beaten by France.

Cardiff's wing Adams was the target of a late high-tackle by Joe Marchant, England replacement. The incident involving Watkin (and Francis) caused even more controversy.

They sustained head injuries at Twickenham in the 20th minute after colliding while trying to tackle England lock Charlie Ewels.

Both were cleared to return to the field for head injury assessments (HIA).

Owen Watkin suffered a cut head during the clash of heads with Tomas Francis
Owen Watkin sustained a head injury during the clash between heads with Tomas Francis

Progressive Rugby, a lobbying group for player protection, criticised the handling of this incident as a “clearly and flagrant violation” of the protocol for head injury assessment protocols.

The claims were made in an open letterProfessor Bill Ribbans, and Professor Fairclough who used to be with the Welsh Rugby Union.

After the incident, Francis was unable to get up and leaned on the post before the Welsh medics saw him.

According to the letter, “there were 12 Criteria 1 symptoms and signs with six of these possibly being observed on video and five remaining identified during the field assessment”.

Two doctors claimed that “the typical observation of video are confirmed loss consciousness, suspected loss consciousness, convulsions, tonic posture, balance disturbance/ataxia und clearly dazed”.

In a separate articleexternal-linkProf Fairclough has urged Wales to not pick Francis against France.

Prof Fairclough said, “Like any Welsh fan, Tomas Francis should be in the Welsh side. He's an excellent player and would be crucial against a very high French team.”

“But I have carefully viewed the footage many times and it is clear that Tomas has suffered a brain injury.

“As someone who has taken an Oath to Protect Life, I cannot fail to emphasize that I believe he playing the next game puts him in unnecessary risk of serious harm, now or in the near future.

“The HIA protocols that were used in the England game were found to not be fit for purpose.

“They could not recognize the fact that he clearly had criteria 1 signs of concussion on-field.

“The serious features of Francis should outweigh any subsequent assessments, indicating that Francis is sufficiently recovered to return for the French match.

“Wales might claim that he is ‘passed fit'. This would be a grave error for me.”

Jenkins said that the Six Nations were still investigating the incident at Twickenham.

Jenkins said, “I don't think that the review has been completed yet.”

“We'll wait and see what the result is. It was not something I saw live. I was more concerned with the poor defence that took place. I was able to see it later.

“All that was done by the medical staff and those in charge will be reflected in the final product, and I'm sure the review will look at the results.”

Jenkins was asked if Francis should have played at Twickenham against France or with the review ongoing. Jenkins responded: “The HIA Process has been in place since a long time now and players and staff all abide by.”

“We need to back the events that have occurred there. If anything else arises from it, it will.

“The player has successfully completed all protocols, made his graduated return to playing, checked all his contact boxes and is available for selection.

Navidi back in business

Jenkins was happy to welcome back Cardiff flanker Josh Navidi. has been called into the squadAfter recovering from a long-term shoulder injury.

Navidi, 31 years old, played 80 minutes in his debut game in nearly five months in Cardiff's United Rugby Championship away loss against Ulster.

Jenkins said, “It's pleasing to see him through the Cardiff game and he's done that before, coming back after not many games.”

“He is a little ring-rusty but we have faith that his physicality will return pretty quickly. He will be eager to see what the selection is.”

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