VIDEO: The punch that shocked the world
REACTION: Shock and horror. Those were the overriding emotions in the wake of Scotland’s 28-17 Six Nations win over France on Sunday.
The three-tries-to-two victory ended France’s Grand Slam hopes.
However, it was the punch of French prop Mohamed Haouas – which earned him a red card – that dominated the post-match briefings.
Adam Hastings scored either side of Haouas’ 37th-minute moment of madness when he hit the hosts’ Jamie Ritchie.
The defeat leaves France alongside England on 13 points at the top of the table, but they will not be able to clinch the title next Saturday against Ireland in Paris.
Ireland’s match against Italy, scheduled for Saturday, and England’s trip to Rome next weekend have been postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus.
“It’s really disappointing,” France team manager Raphael Ibanez said of the prop’s brain explosion.
“We know at this level you cannot react badly, this is what he did.
“We’ll have a long talk and hopefully he can improve in that department,” Ibanez added.
“I don’t think the Grand Slam weighed heavily on the team.
“It’s down to Scotland, they played with a lot of intensity.
“And on our side, things went totally the opposite to how we wanted.”
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Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said the red-card had been a key moment.
“If you punch in the face in this game you get red-carded,” Townsend said.
“It was a big moment for them, a big moment for us.
“I was really pleased that we made the most of that in the next three minutes.”
Scotland’s Jamie Ritchie said he was “shocked” after being punched in the face by Haouas.
“I was a bit shocked. I must have one of those faces,” Ritchie joked, with a visible red mark on the left side of his face.
“I saw Nick Haining on his own and three French guys around him, so I ran in and I got punched in the face.
“I don’t know what was going through his head but I caught the brunt of it,” he added.
Ritchie, 23, who made his 24th Test appearance as Scotland ended Les Bleus’ hopes of a first Grand Slam since 2010, said his side exploited the numerical advantage.
“We knew they would be a number down so potentially there would be space elsewhere,” he said.
“For us, it was about holding onto the ball and I think we executed well,” he added.
The Edinburgh loose forward said targeting the visitors’ scrumhalf Antoine Dupont, who set up Damian Penaud’s try with a crossfield kick, was just one aspect of an impressive defensive display.
“He’s an exceptional player. I think we nullified him pretty well apart from that one kick he got away which was pretty outstanding,” he said.
“We talked about being physical and we fronted up pretty well and it’s something to build on. Our defence throughout the tournament has been the best,” he added.
Gregor Townsend’s side, who beat Italy in Rome two weeks ago, head to Wales next Saturday. Ritchie’s third Test appearance came in Cardiff in November 2018.
“It’s a cauldron. My gran had died the day before I got down there so my mind was on other things, so I can’t really remember too much about that time. It’s an amazing stadium to play at,” said Ritchie.
“It was somewhere when I was a kid I’d watch the game at the Millennium Stadium and say ‘I want to play there one day, it looks like such a great place to play.’ I’m really looking forward to it,” he added.