World Rugby’s decision to ban Wallabies winger Reece Hodge for three weeks has not gone down well with the Australian public.
The Melbourne Rebels utility back faced a hearing on Wednesday following his tackle on Fiji’s Peceli Yato at the weekend. Hodge’s challenge left the flanker concussed and forced him off for the rest of the game. Yato also sat out Fiji’s shock loss to Uruguay.
The ban was initially for six weeks but was reduced due to Hodge’s character and disciplinary record.
However, a number of former players, journalists and fans from Australia have shown their dismay at the ban, believing it sets a bad standard for the rest of the tournament.
Rugby World Cup winner and former Wallaby midfielder Tim Horan said that tacklers will have to be extremely careful for the remainder of the tournament, given the punishment that Hodge was struck with. Others have suggested that there have been far worse tackles throughout the tournament, such as in Samoa’s match with Russia (for which two Samoan players have now been cited).
Whilst there is little doubt that the Samoan players will receive longer bans than Hodge, it is a valid point that there have been tackles so far this RWC that have gone unnoticed and not been cited. Then again, that’s not necessarily a reason to go easy on Hodge, with the majority of the rugby world thinking that his tackle deserved a red card in the match.
However, Australian fans still feel that Yato led with his head in trying to bounce Hodge, and the winger simply did not have time to lower his body to make a safer tackle. But ultimately, there was contact to the head with his shoulder, and it did clearly affect Yato.
As the officials have already faced a lot of criticism so far this RWC for missing dangerous incidents, and as head injuries are a major concern for World Rugby, Hodge was not expected to get away with his poor technique.
This has been the reaction:
— Tim Horan (@TimHoran12) September 25, 2019
Way to go @WorldRugby ??????
— Drew Mitchell (@drew_mitchell) September 25, 2019
— Paul Kneeshaw (@Stick_Beetle) September 25, 2019
I am without speech. This is ludicrous. Absolutely ludicrous. https://t.co/NefulB1dmv
— Michael Atkinson (@kinson88) September 25, 2019
What a load of BS and a horrible precedent. The tournament is being decided in the @WorldRugby board room by a bunch of suits. It’s a contact sport. Let the players play and stop ruining the game #RWC2019 https://t.co/idf1xUWX8a
— Will (@willagnew) September 25, 2019
Rough penalty for standing straight while someone steps in to run over you. If anyone was going to be made an example of it was Hodge.
— Scandal'us (@thetoombulboyz) September 25, 2019
And rugby Australia wonders why the game is losing fans in numbers
— Rob Kennedy (@rcgkennedy) September 25, 2019
What a joke.
— Anthony Hird (@AJHirdy) September 25, 2019
Hodge is now set to miss the next three pool games, including this weekend’s clash with Wales which will likely decide who will top Pool D.
Fortunately for Australia, he will be back in time for the quarter-finals.
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