Six Nations Rugby Limited has confirmed it is reviewing "a number of incidents" from Ireland's last-gasp win over France in Paris on Monday (NZ time) after suggestions that the French tried to manipulate the Head Injury Assessment protocol.

Former Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll was one of a number of pundits to allege wrongdoing, calling the decision to take Antoine Dupont, France's replacement scrum-half, off for an HIA "a disgrace".

Dupont went down clutching his right knee in the 76th minute, leading referee Nigel Owens to stop the game. Owens initially tapped his head as if suspecting a head injury, which heralded a confusing passage of play in which the French medics attending the player appeared to confirm the injury was to Dupont's leg, only for the fourth official to confirm the diagnosis of the independent match doctor - who never entered the field of play - that Dupont was going off for an HIA.

Read more:
Revealed: NZR doubts over Ian Foster
Listen: Irish commentator goes nuts over winning drop-goal
Kiwi Thomas Waldrom to leave Chiefs

Advertisement

Owens himself appeared dubious by this point, checking repeatedly that it was for HIA. But he was never going to overrule the independent doctor.

The upshot was that France sent Maxime Machenaud, a renowned kicker, back into the fray, a move which also ensured they did not have to play the remainder of the match without a specialist scrum-half.

Antoine Dupont was taken off late in France's Six Nations clash against Ireland. Photo / Getty Images
Antoine Dupont was taken off late in France's Six Nations clash against Ireland. Photo / Getty Images

As it turned out, fly-half Anthony Belleau took France's last penalty of the game and missed his attempt at goal. But that did not stop allegations of gamesmanship.

It was the second time in the match that a French player had gone off for an HIA when it looked as if they had suffered a knee injury following Matthieu Jalibert's first-half substitution. And it led some to recall last year's match against Wales when France brought specialist scrummager Rabah Slimani back on for Uini Atonio deep in overtime.

France head coach Jacques Brunel insisted it was entirely the decision of the independent doctor - who didn't enter the pitch - that Jalibert and Dupont needed HIAs.

"They were collisions, but the head injury protocol was decided by the independent doctor; it wasn't our decision," he said. "Both players had knee injuries, but the independent doctor decided that by the protocol."

France are not the only team who have been accused of manipulating the laws in recent times. Wales were accused by former prop Adam Jones of "pulling a fast one" against Georgia last autumn to ensure uncontested scrums.

World Rugby makes reviews mandatory under the terms of HIA implantation in elite rugby, which it says is intended to root out any potential abuse. An independent HIA Review Processor, Alligin (UK) Limited, will now look at the incidents before deciding whether they merit a further review by an HIA Review Panel.

"Depending on their findings, SNRL will be considering the next steps in respect of those incidents," read a statement.