The Daily Telegraph claims that France’s treatment of Ireland out-half Johnny Sexton is shameful and threatens the health of both the Irish out-half and the game of rugby.
Sexton 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 clearly deliberately late body checked Sexton 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 build-up members of Guy Noves’ squad openly admitted they would target the Irish play-maker.
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 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”