FRANCE have been reprimanded by the Six Nations for failing to follow head injury assessment protocols in the farcical ending to their win against Wales, but have been cleared of trying to gain an advantage by substituting prop Uini Atonio.

The March clash in Paris descended into a shambles in the closing stages as Les Bleus hunted a winner.

A series of scrums were held on the Welsh line and the hosts withdrew the struggling Atonio, who was a replacement, for Rabah Slimani, a prop with more set piece prowess.

The French doctor ran onto the field and indicated that it was a head injury - Atonio was then pictured heading down the tunnel alone - but Wales were fuming after eventually conceding a 100th-minute try in the 20-18 loss.

Coach Rob Howley said in the immediate aftermath that “the integrity of the game has been brought into disrepute”.

Six Nations chiefs ordered an investigation and an independent Untoward Incident Review Group analysed video footage and conducted interviews.

They did not find evidence to deem that France had bent the rules to bring on a better scrummager.

A statement read: “The UIRG concluded that the FFR had not complied with HIA protocol and/or the relevant laws of the game, and to this effect a letter of reprimand has been issued by Six Nations Rugby.

“Following detailed review of the available evidence it was established that once the HIA protocol had been initiated and the player had entered the medical room, the FFR conducted the process appropriately although there was some miscommunication from the French team.

“There was no clear evidence that there was any intent to obtain a competitive advantage in the match with regards to the FFR’s failures in complying with the HIA protocol and/or laws of the game.”