Wales lost their under-21s crown after crashing to a heavy defeat to France
at The Gnoll.
But the game could so easily have ended in real tragedy after France wing
Benjamin Thiery was saved from swallowing his tongue.
Amid panick-stricken scenes on the pitch, French doctors managed to prevent
the young wing from choking after being knocked out in a heavy tackle as he
dived for the try line in the 62nd minute.
Thiery, who had earlier converted three of France's six tries, was later
taken to hospital after his narrow escape that had left both sides visibly
But by then both the game and the championship crown had slipped from Wales'
Last year a different set of young Dragons had swept all before them on
their way to Grand Slam glory.
But the next generation have failed to breath fire this season having been
resoundingly beaten in Ireland a fortnight ago.
Wales were desperate to get the defence of their title back on track after
their heavy defeat in Galway and led after half-an-hour through the boot of
But their preparations were hit just hours before the game at the loss of
star hooker Huw Bennett to the senior squad as cover for the sick Robin
McBryde and it was not long before France took a grip up front.
The French pack dominated the early exchanges and after putting the Welsh
scum on the back foot, set up the game's opening try inside five minutes
with centre Denis Lison barging over for the first of his two tries.
Wales got their game going through the driving work of Blues prop John Yapp
and the creativity of fellow Arms Park product Nick Macleod at outside-half
who brought Pontypridd pair Mathew Nuthall and Thomas into play.
But they were made to pay for not creating enough genuine scoring chances
when France hit them on the break to steal back the lead just before
half-time when Pierre Emmanuel Garcia profitted from some mesmerising
And the flood gates opened when outside-half Regis Lespinas stepped out of
James Merriman's tackle to cross seven minutes after the break.
Lison scored his second after Wasps wing James Wellwood was caught with the
ball near his own line.
Play was halted for seven dramatic minutes as physios and doctors from both
sides tended to Thiery but the delay did not stop the rout as prop Adrien
Faliere and wing Julien Arias both scored in the final minutes put Wales to
The defeat means Wales, who won the Triple Crown in 2002 before last year's
triumph, cannot win the title and with plenty to work on before facing
England at Gloucester in two week's time.
Wales Under-21s; M Nuthall; J Wellwood, R Payne, L Thomas, F Brillante; N
Macleod (M Jones, 53), R Rees (J Ireland, 68); J Yapp, K Crawford, C
Griffiths (I George, 76), I Evans (J Mills, 48), L Charteris, J Merriman (T
Brown, 68), R Dale, R Pugh.
Pens - L Thomas (3).
France Under-21s: Tries - D Lison (2), P Garcia, R Lespinas, A Faliere, J
Arias. Cons - B Thiery (3).
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.
The WRU officially unveiled the new pitch today in time for Wales to take on Australia in the first of the Dove Men Series autumn international matches this Saturday. Head Groundsman Lee Evans and colleague Craig Campbell reflect on the 15-week project and look ahead to a pitch perfect future at Millennium Stadium.