AUCKLAND (Reuters) - France coach Jacques Brunel criticised the All Blacks for an “illegal” tackle that injured winger Remy Grosso and left him requiring treatment in hospital following the first test at Eden Park on Saturday.
Grosso was replaced during the second half of the 52-11 loss after a double tackle from flanker Sam Cane and prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Television replays showed the All Blacks’ number seven’s arm had made contact with the winger’s head before Tu’ungafasi’s shoulder made contact with Grosso’s head as he fell.
World Rugby has cracked down on high tackles this year with any contact with the head or neck resulting in a yellow card.
Cane and Tu’ungafasi escaped any sanction and referee Luke Pearce also did not refer the tackle to television official George Ayoub.
“The injury of Remy Grosso is quite serious,” Brunel told reporters through an interpreter. “I don’t know precisely what the problem is but he is at the hospital.
“I think that the way he was done by the All Blacks pair was illegal.”
The fact the pair escaped any sanction was not lost on Brunel, who had lock Paul Gabrillague yellow carded for a high tackle on Ryan Crotty. Television replays showed he had not made any contact with the inside centre’s head or neck.
“The yellow card was key,” Brunel added of the decision that allowed the world champions to cut loose in the final 30 minutes and score seven unanswered tries. “It was very hard to fight with the All Blacks after that.
“Yellow card or not yellow card, we had to deal with it.”
France had led 11-8 at halftime and were holding on in the second half as the All Blacks developed momentum before Gabrillague was sinbinned and the world champions quickly hammered home their numerical advantage.
France captain Mathieu Bastareaud added that his side would need to bounce back and asked them to keep working hard until after the third test in Dunedin on June 23.
“We have a lot to improve,” he said.
“I’ve asked my team mates to improve and I’ve said to them that’s it’s a privilege to play here.
“This was a lesson today but there are two other games for us to do better in, so that’s what we have to do.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Pritha Sarkar