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Ex-players: 'Francis should expect ban'

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Some ex-players and Jamie Roberts fear a Hodge-like ban for Piers Francis

Piers Francis almost had the shortest debut in World Cup history in England’s match against the USA on Thursday. 

In fact, it would have been the shortest appearance ever in a RWC match when he collided with Will Hooley in the very first tackle of the match, making contact with his head. 

High tackles have undoubtedly been the most debated topic of the RWC so far, and it only took five seconds before there was another tackle that was added to the catalogue of controversial hits at this year’s tournament. 

The referee Nic Berry missed it, but there are expected to be ramifications. In light of the tackle, former and current professionals are having their say and what the outcome should be. 

Jamie Roberts pointed out if Australia’s Reece Hodge’s three-week ban set the standard at this RWC, Francis should expect the same punishment. 

(Continue reading below…)

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Both Francis’ and Hodge’s tackles are comparable, although Hooley dipped into the tackle slightly more than Fiji’s Peceli Yato had. It could also be argued that Francis initially hit the shoulders and slid up. 

Then again, the Northampton Saints midfielder was coming in at a greater speed and it could therefore be deemed to be more reckless. What does come across is that neither player showed any malice, if that does count for anything. 

Former Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell, who has been very critical of the decision to ban Hodge, posed the question on Twitter as to what Francis should expect and another three-week ban seems to be the verdict. 

Hodge was initially banned for six weeks, but it was halved based on his character and record, so the same should be expected for Francis. 

There were a couple of incidents in this match that were missed, although John Quill’s brutal challenge to the head of Owen Farrell was not. 

The American flanker saw red and it would be nothing short of a miracle – or an erroneous decision at his hearing – if he plays again this RWC. 

But with the tournament not even a week old, there have already been two suspensions to date which suggests this could be the defining feature of this year’s RWC. 

WATCH: Eddie Jones speaks to the media following England’s win over USA

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Some ex-players and Jamie Roberts fear a Hodge-like ban for Piers Francis