Decision to pick Wales rugby player branded a ‘grave mistake’ 5 months ago

Decision to pick Wales rugby player branded a ‘grave mistake’

Francis suffered a head blow in Wales' defeat by England

Wales have been warned against selecting prop Tomas Francis against France on Friday, with the decision to declare him fit described as a "grave mistake".

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Wayne Pivac's side face-off against France in the Six Nations in Cardiff on Friday and they will be available to select Francis, Owen Watkin and Josh Adams.

It comes after the trio all passed concussion protocols after suffering blows to the head in Wales' defeat to England on February 26.

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However, Professor John Fairclough has claimed that selecting Francis would put the player at "unnecessary risk of serious harm".

Both Watkin and Francis sustained head injuries in the 20th minute at Twickenham when they collided while attempting to tackle England lock Charlie Ewels.

The pair left the field for head injuries assessments (HIA) and subsequently passed the tests to return.

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Progressive Rugby, a lobby group on player protection, has criticised the handling of the incident and described it as a "clear and flagrant breach" of head injury assessment protocol.

Professor Bill Ribbans and Professor Fairclough - who used to work with the Welsh Rugby Union - released an open letter expressing their concern, with Fairclough urging Wales not to pick Francis against France on Friday.

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"Like any Welsh fan I want to see Tomas Francis in the Welsh team, because he's a terrific player and would be key against a very good French side," said Professor Fairclough.

"But I have carefully reviewed the footage numerous times, and in my expert view, it is beyond any doubt 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 I think him playing the next game puts him at unnecessary risk of serious harm, whether that be now or in the future.

"The HIA protocols undertaken during the England game were shown to be not fit for purpose.

"They were unable to recognise the fact he had clearly sustained criteria 1 signs of on-field concussion.

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"The serious features displayed by Francis should outweigh the results of any subsequent assessment indicating he is sufficiently recovered in time to return for the French game.

"Wales may claim that he has been 'passed fit'. For me that would be a grave mistake."

Wales have won one of their opening Six Nations matches, having beaten Scotland whilst losing to Ireland and England.

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