France has been exonerated of wrongdoing after Antoine Dupont and Matthieu Jalibert were hooked off in their last-gasp defeat to Ireland on Saturday.
Both appeared to be suffering from leg injuries, but were removed permanently after head injury assessments (HIAs), when neither had suffered concussion and could have returned to action.
Pundit and former Ireland centre Brian Driscoll alleged wrongdoing, describing Dupont’s removal a “disgrace.”
Dupont went down clutching his right knee, but was taken off for a HIA, allowing the French to bring renowned kicker Maxime Machenaud back on.
However, Six Nations Rugby has ruled Les Bleus had no part to play in the removal of Dupont after half an hour and Jalibert in the closing minutes.
A statement from the body read: "While there was some debate about whether or not it had been appropriate for the match day doctor to call for an HIA in the circumstances, there was no evidence of anyone within the FFR seeking to gain a competitive advantage" in either case.
It upheld French coach Jaques Brunel insistence that the decisions had not been made by anyone who was formally connected with the French team, but by the match doctor with the assistance of the video doctor.
Brunel told BBC Sport: “They were collisions, but the head injury protocol was decided by the independent doctor. It wasn’t our decision. Both players had knee injuries, but the independent doctor decided that by the protocol.”
The HIA Review Panel has recommended clarifying certain issues to avoid similar circumstances arising in future.
Teams manipulating rules regarding injury for tactical advantage first tarnished rugby in the Bloodgate scandal of 2009, when Harlequins wing Tom Williams took fake blood capsules to facilitate his replacement by Nick Evans, who had previously gone off injured.
The episode led to three and two year bans for former director of rugby Dean Richards and physio Steph Brennan, and a four-month suspension for Williams.
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