Former Welsh player calls on Wayne Barnes to claim down on ‘over-the-top’ French brutality
Former Welsh player Graham Price believes France are resorting to the nasty tactics prevalent in their play in the 1970s and called on a strong refereeing performance in next weekend’s Six Nations encounter.
Les Bleus, whose Grand Slam and Championship ambitions remain intact after recording wins over Italy and Ireland, have come in for heavy criticism for a number of incidents that marred the one-point victory over Joe Schmidt’s Ireland at the Stade de France last time out.
Lock Yoann Maestri escaped a ban despite being cited for a cynical off-the-ball shoulder charge, when he also appeared to raise an elbow, which laid out Jonathan Sexton during the 10-9 victory.
Skipper Guilhem Guirado escaped without any punishment following a borderline challenge which forced Dave Kearney to leave the field with shoulder damage, while Ireland captain Rory Best was also battle-scarred from the physical encounter.
Wales take on Guy Noves’ side next Friday night at the Millennium Stadium and Price, a prop for Wales during the 70’s, has called for match official Wayne Barnes to remain vigilant in what is expected to be another titanic tussle between the two sides.
“France will be uncompromising opponents against Wales in Cardiff next Friday night but I hope referee Wayne Barnes will punish any more of the type of antics we saw against the Irish,” he told Wales Online.
“With neutral touch judges and the television monitoring, I couldn’t believe what they got away with.
“Guirado hit Kearney with what was akin, in my opinion, to a flying head-butt while Maestri was looking for Sexton and Best appeared to have been gouged under an eye.
“They appear to be resorting to some of the tactics employed by some French teams in my day, when you could expect almost anything from them. Back then we would have biting, stamping, kicking and punching and the most heinous of the lot, gouging of the eyes.
Price had a slight dig at Barnes while calling for him to take action where necessary.
“They were way over the top against Ireland and need clamping down,” he said.
“If they conduct themselves in the same manner at the Principality Stadium I would hope and expect Barnes, who doesn’t mind being the centre of attention, takes stern action.”