Wales Defend Decision To Pass Tomas Francis Fit After Leading Doctor Claims They Are Risking Players’ Health

Wales prop Tomas Francis. Pic: Getty Images.

Wales Defend Decision To Pass Tomas Francis Fit After Leading Doctor Claims They Are Risking Players’ Health

By Haydn Evans

Wales have defended themselves against accusations they have placed Tomas Francis at risk by declaring the prop fit to face France on Friday.

Francis, wing Josh Adams and centre Owen Watkin have all been passed fit to play in Wales’ Six Nations clash in Cardiff.

But it is the all-clear given to Francis that has provoked a backlash among campaigners aiming to make the game safer with regard to head injuries.

The officiating team and Wales medical staff were heavily criticised after Francis was not withdrawn from play having suffered a clear head knock in the first half of Wales’ 23-19 loss to England at Twickenham in the last round of the competition.

Francis was seen staggering and clearly dazed after colliding heads with teammate Watkin in the first-half 10 days ago.

Watkin lay prone on the ground for a couple of seconds after the impact before making his way to his feet slowly. He was then withdrawn for a head injury assessment (HIA).

Francis stood up uncomfortably and leant against the posts for stability. The Ospreys man was left on the field for three minutes before being substituted for a HIA, which he passed, allowing him to return to the field of play.

Despite Francis being passed fit to play against France, Progressive Rugby – , a group campaigning for safer head injury laws in rugby- have warned he could still be being put at significant risk of further damage.

Former WRU doctor, Professor John Fairclough said: “I have reviewed the footage several times and in my expert view, it is beyond any doubt that Tomas had suffered a brain injury.”

“As someone who has taken an oath to protect life, I can’t, in all good conscience, fail to highlight that I think him playing the next game puts him at unnecessary risk of serious harm, whether that be now or in the future.”

Progressive Rugby wrote an open letter to World Rugby, Six Nations and the Welsh Rugby Union calling the decision to leave Francis on a “clear and flagrant breach of HIA protocol.”

They believe that Francis’ symptoms of ataxia and being dazed were clearly grounds for the immediate and permanent removal of the player as stated in the World Rugby Head Injury Assessment protocol.

But Wales have defended themselves and insist they are following the rules and protocols as laid down by World Rugby.

Following the incident, a review has been launched but this won’t affect Francis’ availability as Wales defence coach Gethin Jenkins confirmed the player has, “completed his return to play protocols, ticked all his contact boxes and is available for selection.




“We will wait to see what comes out of the review,” said Jenkins, in reference to Francis, who suffered a previous concussion in training with Wales back in November.

“The people in charge and the medical professionals will look through it and I’m sure the review will see what comes of it.”

“The HIA process has been in place for a long time and as players and staff we all abide by it.

“All three are expected to take part in training today and be fit for the game on Friday,” defence coach Jenkins revealed.

“We always worry when they have to go through protocols. It’s quite a stringent process.

“We’ve lost people in the past due to that, and it’s unfortunate. It is a good boost that we have all got three available.”

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