Former Wales flanker Alix Popham has called for Tomas Francis to be stood down from tonight’s Six Nations match against France.

Doctors contributing to the independent lobbying group Progressive Rugby say Francis exhibited “criteria one” signs of concussion after he made a tackle against England at Twickenham on February 26 and should not have been given the head injury assessment (HIA) that allowed him to resume the match.

But Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has selected the Ospreys prop to start against France at the Principality Stadium this evening (kick-off 8pm).

Newport-born Popham, 42, who won 33 Wales caps from 2003 to 2008, has been diagnosed with early onset dementia.

He is part of an ongoing lawsuit brought against rugby governing bodies over past handling of players and he is shocked that Francis is set to play

“I just can’t understand that he is playing,” Popham told the i newspaper. “They are following the protocols but the protocols aren’t fit for purpose. It needs calling out and what is going on is shocking.

“I was watching the match live, at home on TV, and I noticed Tom fall out of the contact area and go to the floor. Then, on replays, you see him go to his knees and stumble and use the posts to stand up for a few seconds. He was clearly concussed.

“It seemed to be he was staying on and then he got called off for the HIA. But it was clearly a concussion, and the laws are that he doesn’t go for an HIA.

“It is amazing. The world’s eyes are on them, tenfold, now. Yes, it is possible to miss things, but there was a lot missed. They didn’t even have the correct periods of the HIA because Owen Watkin [the other Wales player in the same incident] was back on in nine minutes, when it should be 12.”

A WRU statement said: “Tomas Francis and Josh Adams have been managed clinically by Wales medical personnel in following all of the required return-to-play protocols, as specified in the World Rugby regulations.

“Having suffered no adverse reactions and no complications in successfully completing each stage of the return-to-play protocols, both are available for selection.”

But Popham is adamant that rugby should exercise far more caution.

“Rugby should be out of the window, it is about getting their brain back healthy first,” he said. “With what I know now, and the experts I have spoken to, on average it takes 28 days for a brain to recover after concussion. A boxer getting knocked out isn’t allowed to train for 30 days.

“No current rugby player will know the numbers who have been diagnosed, who I’m speaking to, who are suicidal; the parents of a child who committed suicide after concussion. This is serious stuff.

“You cannot change the past: that has happened, deal with those consequences at a future date. But you can protect what is going on now. Err on the side of caution and look after girls, boys, men and women who are playing. You only get one brain.”