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No citing for alleged biting: Six Nations organisers

 | March 21, 2017

Star Wales wing George North's claims he was bitten during France's dramatic 20-18 win over Wales on Saturday will not be investigated further, Six Nations organisers said Monday.

WALES

PARIS: Star Wales wing George North’s claims he was bitten during France’s dramatic 20-18 win over Wales on Saturday will not be investigated further, Six Nations organisers said Monday.

They explained that the independent citing commissioner was unable to ascertain definitively if a French player bit North. Match referee Wayne Barnes acknowledged at the time there were bite marks, but the television official could not see any act of foul play.

France coach Guy Noves suggested in the post match press conference that perhaps North had done it to himself which provoked uproar across the channel.

However, the Six Nations statement on Monday clearly hopes a line has been drawn under the matter.

“The independent citing commissioner present at the France v Wales match on 18 March 2017 has carefully reviewed all relevant evidence regarding all relevant incidents, including the allegation that Wales winger, George North, was bitten in the latter stages of the match,” read the statement.

“Based on the information available to him in the case of the alleged bite (including footage of the incident from several angles), the citing commissioner has not been able to conclude that any particular individual carried out an act of foul play, and accordingly he has not made a citing complaint ahead of the ordinary deadline for doing so, ie within 48 hours after the conclusion of the match.

“While the relevant rules provide that in certain circumstances, for example where the citing commissioner is uncertain as to the identity of the player(s) concerned, he is permitted to make a citing complaint after the 48-hour deadline, Six Nations Rugby anticipates that this will be the end of the matter in terms of the alleged bite.”

Speaking after the game, lock Yoann Maestri, who had captained France in the finale with normal skipper Guilhem Guirado off the pitch, said: “I hope that whoever bit him, if he’s French, will not be caught” from television pictures.

Then asked if he knew who was guilty, Maestri had replied: “Yes.”

The Six Nations authorities did not make any further comment over the other contentious incident in the dramatic finale — which saw 20 minutes of extra playing time and a succession of scrums on the Wales line with the Welsh leading 18-13 — the dispute over a contentious head injury to prop Uini Atonio.

Atonio was replaced, despite telling Barnes he was not injured but his back was hurting, by preferred tighthead prop Rabah Slimani, known for his devastating scrummaging power, back on to strengthen the set piece.

Noves insisted it was a genuine call by his medics for a head injury, a non-sequitur for a referee obliged to follow strict concussion rules that allow teams to replace injured props with front row teammates who have been already subbed off.

But Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley saw it otherwise, saying there was “evidence to suggest that the integrity of the game has been brought into disrepute” by France fabricating the head injury call.

Six Nations organisers said in a statement released Sunday that they were “aware of concerns about the head injury assessment that took place towards the end of the match and is looking into the matter”.


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