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Woodward slams Hodge ban decision

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Clive Woodward slams decision to ban Reece Hodge

England World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward has disagreed with World Rugby’s decision to ban Australian back Reece Hodge for three weeks. 

The utility Wallaby back was handed the ban on Wednesday following a tackle on Fijian flanker Peceli Yato last Saturday which was deemed dangerous and forced the player off the field with concussion. Hodge was initially banned for six weeks, but it was reduced based on his character and disciplinary record. 

By and large, the rugby world is in agreement with this decision as many feel it should have been a red card in the game. Hodge made contact with Yato’s head with his shoulder and with World Rugby clamping down on high and dangerous tackles, many of these tackles have been adjudged to be red cards before. 

However, the likes of former Wallabies Tim Horan and Drew Mitchell have voiced their disapproval at this decision and Woodward has now joined them. 

He said that it is a “totally wrong decision” on Twitter, adding: “Has any of those making this decision ever tried stopping someone as powerful as Yato by wrapping their arms around him? – good luck if you try that!”

(Continue reading below…)

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Some fans were quick to point out that Hodge did try and wrap his arms around, but still made contact with the Clermont flanker’s head. But Woodward insisted that it “happens so quickly players cannot possibly react to every situation”. 

This mirrors what some others have said, that Yato led with his head in order to bounce Hodge and the Melbourne Rebels back was caught off-guard. 

Seeing as Australia-Fiji was only the second game of the RWC, it may be a sign that there are many more bans to come, particularly as there are more hearings scheduled. 

This is perhaps why the likes of Mitchell and Woodward have raised their concerns at this decision, as this RWC could ultimately be defined by suspensions. 

But as World Rugby try and make the game safer, any contact with the head will put any tackler in trouble. That is why so many agree with the decision to ban Hodge. 

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Clive Woodward slams decision to ban Reece Hodge