France’s Six Nations campaign hit a roadblock as lock Paul Willemse faced a four-week suspension following a red card in their encounter against Ireland.

The disciplinary committee weighed in on the high tackles, issuing a sanction that will keep Willemse out of key clashes against Scotland and Italy.

The 31-year-old lock, earning his 32nd cap, experienced a tumultuous night against Ireland, receiving a yellow card early on in the ninth minute for a shoulder-to-head collision with Andrew Porter. 

A second yellow followed in the 32nd minute for a high tackle on Caelan Doris, ultimately resulting in a red card after a halftime review.

Despite the setbacks, the committee opted for leniency, recognising the absence of malicious intent in Willemse’s actions. The suspension, while a blow to France’s aspirations, allows for his return in the game against Wales on March 10.

Willemse’s absence poses a significant challenge for France, especially with the earlier losses of key locks due to injuries. 

Coach Fabien Galthie must now recalibrate his strategy and find a way to fortify the team’s performance in crucial upcoming matches. Galthie faces a challenging situation also because of the earlier losses of locks Thibaud Flament, Emmanuel Meafou, and Romain Taofifenua due to injuries. 

Willemse’s absence will be felt in the upcoming clash against Scotland at Murrayfield and the home game against Italy on February 25. However, he is set to return for the match against Wales on March 10, offering a potential boost for the French squad.