Paul Willemse’s two-game ban poses Six Nations challenge for France

Paul Willemse’s absence will be keenly felt in upcoming clashes against Scotland and Italy before he appears on March 10 in Wales match

France’s Paul Willemse in action during a lineout. — REUTERS

France’s Six Nations campaign faces a significant setback as lock Paul Willemse receives a four-week suspension following his red card in the match against Ireland. 

Willemse’s absence will be keenly felt in the upcoming clashes against Scotland and Italy, raising questions about the team’s ability to adapt to the loss of a key player. 

Willemse initially received a yellow card in the ninth minute for an incident involving Ireland’s Andrew Porter. The subsequent red card came after a high tackle on Caelan Doris in the 32nd minute. 

The suspension comes at a challenging time for France, already grappling with injuries to locks Thibaud Flament, Emmanuel Meafou, and Romain Taofifenua.

Head coach Fabien Galthie must formulate a strategy to overcome the absence of Willemse, whose return is anticipated for the crucial match against Wales on March 10.

Recognising the reckless nature of his high tackles, the disciplinary committee applied mitigating factors, resulting in a reduced sanction. “Mitigating factors were applied by the Committee reducing the six-week entry point by two weeks, resulting in a sanction of four weeks for this offence,” said the independent disciplinary committee.

The committee’s leniency towards Willemse is noted, emphasising the absence of malicious intent in his actions. However, the impact on the team’s Six Nations aspirations cannot be understated. 

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