Six Nations 2017: Wales coach Rob Howley 'questions integrity of our game'

Wales coach Rob Howley was left to "question the integrity of our game" after a controversial end to his side's 20-18 Six Nations defeat by France.

France replaced tight-head prop Uini Atonio with Rabah Slimani 11 minutes into the 20 minutes of added time that were played at the Stade de France.

Slimani had earlier been replaced, but France's team doctor said Atonio needed to go off for a head injury assessment.

"In terms of the process, I think we have reason to complain," said Howley.

France coach Guy Noves said his medical staff told him Atonio was injured.

He added: "We will do a medical check-up. I hope the injury is not too serious, and he will be able to play again soon."

Rugby's rules allow replacement props to be substituted if they are injured, or if they need a head injury assessment - a series of cognitive, balance and memory tests given to any player who has a suspected concussion.

Howley said: "What happened in the last 10 minutes of that game should never happen again on the international rugby field.

"You can hear [referee] Wayne Barnes ask him if he is OK. He said he had a sore back, but that he was OK. And then the doctor comes on, and he goes off.

"I've no issues about the result, it's just about the process."

Wales led 18-13 at the end of the 80 minutes but Damien Chouly drove over for the try that brought France level, and Camille Lopez's conversion was decisive.

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'Did France cheat?' 'I wouldn't use that term'

Was North bitten in thrilling conclusion?

In the build-up to France's final try, Wales wing George North claimed he had been bitten as he made a tackle.

Barnes asked television match official Peter Fitzgibbon to check the incident, but he could not find any clear footage so the game resumed without action being taken.

Howley said: "Ultimately they've made a decision on that and it's absolutely fine. I am 100% behind that decision in terms of the pictures they saw.

"There's evidence on George's arm to suggest something did happen and ultimately you trust and believe your players."

Asked about the incident, Noves said: "I am sorry, I haven't seen, so I don't know."

'We put in a great effort'

Leigh Halfpenny had kicked six penalties - three from more than 50 metres - as Wales fought back after Remi Lamerat's early try.

But defeat ended a tournament in which they beat Italy, then lost to England and Scotland, before victory over Ireland last week.

Howley added: "The players were unbelievable in the last 10-15 minutes of that game.

"We put a great effort in and unfortunately we weren't rewarded for that and it's hugely disappointing."

Wales in the 2017 Six Nations
Sunday, 5 February: Italy 7-33 Wales
Saturday, 11 February: Wales 16-21 England
Saturday, 25 February: Scotland 29-13 Wales
Friday, 10 March: Wales 22-9 Ireland
Saturday, 18 March: France 20-18 Wales

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