Back-rower Nathan Hughes is set to miss England’s first three autumn Tests.
The Wasps No 8 has been banned for six weeks – with two weeks backdated – after he punched Gloucester flanker Lewis Ludlow in the head during a Premiership match on October 6th, and then tweeting ‘what a joke’ during his first hearing last week.
The 17-Test veteran pleaded guilty to the charge and will miss Tests against South Africa, New Zealand and Japan. He will be available to play against Australia if selected by head coach Eddie Jones.
Hughes’ final disciplinary hearing reportedly ended close to 1am on Thursday.
Hughes was initially set to receive a four-week ban, which would have made him available to face New Zealand on November 10, but his tweet in protest resulted in a two-week extension, the RFU panel revealed.
“The panel … determined that he would be suspended for a period of four weeks leaving him eligible to play again on November 6,” a statement read.
“At the conclusion of the hearing on October 10, the club were advised that the usual process would be followed in respect of the issuing of a press release but that, in the interim, there was to be no comment on social media. “This is standard protocol following a disciplinary hearing. Wasps had also advised the player ahead of the hearing not to comment on social media.
“Notwithstanding that warning, on leaving the hearing, the player tweeted via his personal account “what a joke” and this tweet came to the attention of the panel shortly thereafter.”
The RFU statement detailed how the tweet affected the decision-making process.
“The Panel determined that the timing of the tweet immediately after the hearing, the context of it in terms of the Player’s own acceptance of punching an opponent and the fact that he has a significant twitter following of over 7000 warranted an additional playing suspension of 2 weeks in line with previous decisions where Players/Coaches have made critical comments in a public forum,” the statement read.
“Whilst the Panel accept that the tweet was written in a moment of frustration and was deleted quickly by the Player, it had already been picked up on social media and was then discussed publicly.”
Hughes will be free to play again on November 20th.
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