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).
The British & Irish Cup kicks off this weekend with the four Regional Premiership Select XVs flying the flag for Wales. Welsh
Sat 14 Nov: Blues Premiership Select v Nottingham (2.30) & Connacht Eagles v Dragons (2.30)
Sun 15 Nov: Yorkshire Carnegie v Ospreys Premiership Select (1.30) & Scarlets v Bedford Blues (3.00)
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.