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Hodge 'tackle' leaves consultant concerned

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World Rugby consultant calls into question high tackle in Australia match

Respected sports scientist Ross Tucker has called into question the use of the high tackle sanction framework by referees at the World Cup. 

Reacting to an incident in the Fiji-Australia match on Saturday in Sapporo, Tucker, who is a World Rugby consultant, wondered if the Wallabies’ Reece Hodge escaped a red card with his tackle on Fijian flanker Peceli Yato during a match that ended 39-21 in favour of Michael Cheika’s side. 

World Rugby’s referees boss Alain Rolland had warned before the tournament that red and yellow cards would be brandished without hesitation for high tackles at the World Cup, with player welfare foremost. However, those punishments have been slow in materialising.

Rolland had delivered his warning, telling teams that the number of sin bins and send-offs would be determined by players rather than officials.

England coach Eddie Jones has been outspoken on the topic, describing as “ridiculous” the red card shown to All Blacks lock Scott Barrett for a dangerous tackle on Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper last month in Perth.

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Australian Jones said the sending off “lacked common sense” and was inconsistent with how other similar incidents had been handled this year.

He said a lack of consistency threatened to ruin the global showpiece tournament. Here is what Tucker said after the Hodge incident on Saturday:

Fiji head coach John McKee adopted a stoical view on an incident that is sure to result in a citing for Hodge. “I haven’t seen footage of the incident yet, but maybe some people will look at it. We haven’t spoken to the TMO yet,” McKee said.

“The referee has a tough job out there. There’s a lot going on. We maybe didn’t get the rub of the green, but we have no complaints about the referee.

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World Rugby consultant calls into question high tackle in Australia match