Yoann Maestri faces misconduct charge after Wayne Barnes comments

‘Anglo-Saxon referees talk about fair play but the reality is they think we’re cheats’

France’s Yoann Maestri celebrates after his team’s dramatic win over Wales. Photograph: Inpho

France’s Yoann Maestri celebrates after his team’s dramatic win over Wales. Photograph: Inpho

 

Six Nations bosses have started a misconduct complaint against France vice-captain Yoann Maestri following the chaotic conclusion of last weekend’s clash against Wales in Paris.

It follows allegedly critical post-match comments made by Toulouse lock Maestri to the media about match referee Wayne Barnes.

He said: “Anglo-Saxon referees always talk about fair play but the reality is that they think we’re cheats.”

A Six Nations statement said: “Following an investigation, Six Nations Rugby has commenced a misconduct complaint against France vice-captain, Yoann Maestri, following comments made by him to representatives of the media about the referee.

“A disciplinary hearing will now be convened by the chair of the Six Nations disciplinary panel, Professor Lorne Crerar.”

France wing Virimi Vakatawa, meanwhile, is able to resume playing immediately after a Six Nations disciplinary hearing considered the accumulation of a yellow card and citing commissioner warning issued to him during the Wales encounter at Stade de France.

Vakatawa was sin-binned following a deliberate knock-on, and then warned by the match citing commissioner for a high tackle.

The Six Nations statement added: “The disciplinary committee concluded that although the player had been guilty of both acts of foul play, no further sanction was necessary. The player is able to resume playing immediately.”

And a Six Nations investigation launched last Sunday into replacements made during 20 minutes of stoppage time in Paris is continuing.

Wales’ interim head coach Rob Howley said the “integrity of the game had been brought into disrepute” after France replacement prop Uini Atonio went off for a head injury assessment, with starting tighthead Rabah Slimani then returning.

Slimani had earlier been replaced, but the France team doctor insisted that Atonio needed an HIA, therefore allowing Slimani to go back on as France laid siege to Wales’ line through a series of scrums.

Wales’ view was the HIA process had apparently been used as a method of getting superior scrummager Slimani back on as France looked to exert set-piece dominance in pursuit of a winning try, which duly happened.

Howley claimed that a member of France’s coaching team ran outside the designated technical area, which is not allowed, and spoke to Les Bleus’ team doctor, who then went on to the pitch and told referee Barnes that Atonio needed an HIA.

Just before that, following the doctor’s first pitch arrival, Barnes asked Atonio if he was injured, and the player said he had a sore back but could play on.

Wales conceded a try and 100th-minute conversion as France triumphed 20-18 to secure a third-place finish in the championship, while Wales ended up fifth.

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