Were it not for the 41 phases that culminated in Jonathan Sexton’s last-gasp drop-goal in Paris on Saturday, the noise surrounding the HIA call for France scrum-half Antoine Dupont would be so much louder.
The replacement number 9 was involved in a tackle minutes before the clock turned red in the NatWest 6 Nations opener between France and Ireland and what followed was a decision that bordered on the farcical.
The 21-year-old had clearly suffered a knee injury and was in obvious distress as he lay prone on the field. As French medics rushed to tend to their fallen man, the official word back to referee Nigel Owens was that Dupont was to be taken off for a head injury assessment (HIA).
With the player visibly limping as he was supported off the field and down the tunnel, Owens repeatedly sought confirmation of the HIA call as it certainly appeared that the player had suffered an injury to his leg rather than his head.
With the match doctor confirming the HIA, Owens had little choice but to accept the ruling and resume the game.
What makes this late drama important was that it permitted France to bring back on Maxime Machenaud rather than see out the game without a specialist scrum-half.
Had Dupont exited stage left with a knee injury, Machenaud would not have been permitted to return.
Now, as an investigation into the incident begins, it has emerged that Dupont will play no further part in the Championships and will likely be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
The reason? A ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
Reported by L’Equipe, the news will likely fuel the cries of gamesmanship by the French as they pushed for a hard-earned victory over the Irish in wet conditions in Paris.
While it was painfully obvious that Dupont had sustained a leg injury, the HIA ruling was never going to be overruled given the potential risks head injuries pose in the game.
The pending investigation will likely reveal if Dupont was assessed and what any results might have been but given that the obvious knee injury has been confirmed, it does cast France’s use of the rule into question and whether it should have been permitted by officials.