Australia wing Reece Hodge has received a three-match ban after being cited for a dangerous tackle during the Wallabies’ Rugby World Cup victory over Fiji.
It means that Hodge will miss Australia’s remaining pool games against Wales, Uruguay and Georgia.
World Rugby announced the decision following a disciplinary hearing in Tokyo. Hodge escaped sanction during the game from referee Ben O’Keeffe for a shoulder-led, no-arms tackle to the head of Fiji’s Peceli Yato in Sapporo. Yato subsequently failed a head injury assessment.
An independent disciplinary committee ruled Hodge had committed a reckless, rather than deliberate, act of foul play that warranted a red card.
“In considering all the available evidence, including multiple broadcast angles and submissions from Hodge and his legal representative, the committee deemed that the incident was an act of foul play and warranted a red card in line with the high tackle sanction framework,” World Rugby said.
The Hodge verdict comes barely 24 hours after World Rugby issued an extraordinary statement criticising the performance of officials at the World Cup.
A series of high-profile errors prompted the game’s global governing body to concede that the officials’ “performances over the opening weekend were not consistently of the standards set by World Rugby and themselves”.
Announcing the Hodge decision, World Rugby said: “There was an act of foul play (which was reckless, rather than deliberate), the act of foul play was a high tackle, there was contact with the head, there was a high degree of danger.
Good day of training in Tokyo.— David Pocock (@pocockdavid) September 24, 2019
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“Given the above outcomes, the committee determined that the act of foul play warranted a red card.
“The committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory mid-range entry point, which was introduced in 2017 to mitigate the risk of head injuries, which according to World Rugby’s sanctions table, carries a minimum six-match suspension.
“Having acknowledged Hodge’s exemplary disciplinary record, good character and conduct at the hearing, the committee reduced the six-match entry point by three matches, resulting in a sanction of three matches.
“Hodge will miss Australia’s three remaining pool matches. The suspension will end at midnight on 11 October, 2019, after which he is free to resume playing.”
Samoa players Rey Lee-Lo and Motu Matu’u, meanwhile, have been cited for dangerous high tackles during Tuesday’s World Cup clash against Russia and will also face disciplinary hearings.
Both players were yellow-carded by referee Romain Poite, despite clear grounds under World Rugby’s crackdown on dangerous tackles to dismiss both players.
The reason given for downgrading the punishment on each occasion was that the opposition player was dipping when contact was made.
Samoa wing Ed Fidow has received a citing commissioner warning for punching or striking in the same match.
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