Monday 20 February 2017

'France crossed the line' - English paper blasts 'disgraceful' treatment of Johnny Sexton

Published 15/02/2016 | 11:05

Johnny Sexton battered and bruised against France
Johnny Sexton battered and bruised against France

The Daily Telegraph claims the French roughhouse treatment of Ireland out-half Johnny Sexton is shameful and threatens the health of both the Irish out-half and the game of rugby.

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The Leinster number 10 departed from the Stade de France with 11 minutes to go in the 10-9 defeat after receiving a number of late challenges throughout the contest.

French second row Yoann Maestri inexplicably escaped with only a penalty concession after a deliberate late body check right in front of referee Jaco Peyper and was treated by the Irish medical team before being replaced by Ian Madigan in the closing stages.

In the lead-up to the Six Nations clash duel, the 30-year-old admitted that the criticism in France following his two-year stint with Racing Metro had become personal, while members of Guy Noves' squad openly admitted they would target the Irish play-maker.

Jonathan Sexton left the fray with a recurrence of the neck problem he suffered against Wales. Photo: Sportsfile
Jonathan Sexton left the fray with a recurrence of the neck problem he suffered against Wales. Photo: Sportsfile

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It isn't the first time Sexton has been forced from the field of play against les Bleus and writing in the Telegraph today, Daniel Schofield was withering in his assessment and compared it to 'Bountygate' in the NFL

"The New Orleans Saints operated an internal system of bonuses which were awarded on  the basis of injuring opposition players," he wrote.

"The consequences were severe. Among many bans, Sean Payton, the head coach, was suspended for an entire season, sending a clear message that the idea of setting out to physically injure an opponent was abhorrent, even in a sport as addicted to violence as American football.

"The difference between the Saints’ tactics and France’s recent approach to dealing with Jonathan Sexton is paper thin. In the past four fixtures against France, the Ireland fly-half has been forced from the field through injury. It is no coincidence. Sexton won few friends during his time at Racing Metro, being labelled the Zlatan Ibrahimovic of rugby. French players openly say they are targeting him."

Schofield described Mastri's bodycheck as "really distasteful" and argues the roughhouse treatment could be detrimental to Sexton's career.

"Given that Sexton has a long record of concussions, France’s methods are not just risking his career but his long-term health. Rugby’s physicality is a large part of its appeal for both players and spectators, but France have crossed a line with its approach to Sexton which should shame everyone involved in its conception and execution"

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