Wellington (AFP) – The All Blacks have dismissed accusations of illegal tactics in the first Test against France, saying the double facial fracture suffered by Remy Grosso was “one of those things”.
The French wing was rushed to hospital after being smashed in a tackle by All Blacks Sam Cane and Ofa Tu’ungafasi as New Zealand raced to an overwhelming 52-11 victory in Auckland on Saturday.
Cane was penalised for a high tackle but Tu’ungafasi escaped punishment with French coach Jacques Brunel calling for the incident to be reviewed by officials.
France lock Paul Gabrillagues had earlier been yellow carded for a high tackle on Ryan Crotty.
Brunel called the tackle, which has put Grosso out of the series, “dangerous” and “illegal” but All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said it was accidental.
“I can understand they would be a little miffed when their guy got a yellow card. I don’t think their guy should have been yellow carded, nor do I think Ofa should have been yellow carded,” Hansen said Sunday after twice reviewing video of the hard-hitting Test.
“Sammy made the tackle and Ofa ended up hitting him in the face with his shoulder accidentally.
“There was no intention to hurt him and unfortunately it’s one of those things. All three of them got head knocks.
“Our game is really fluid, there’s movement in it and when you get two guys coming at you to make a tackle on one things can change late and I think that’s what happened.”
Hansen said it appeared Grosso slipped as the All Blacks closed in on him.
“That’s my point. When the game is fluid like it is and players change their angle, and you’ve committed (to the tackle), especially when you’re a big guy like Ofa is, it’s difficult to get out of the way.
“It was accidental and just one of those things.”