Australia head coach Michael Cheika has hit out at World Rugby following Reece Hodge’s three-match ban for a dangerous tackle. Hodge will miss Sunday’s World Cup Pool D showdown against Wales in Tokyo, as well as additional group-stage appointments with Uruguay and Georgia, after his citing and suspension for the tackle against Fiji.
In the independent disciplinary committee’s written judgement on the matter, it was revealed that Hodge said in his evidence that he was not aware of World Rugby’s decision-making framework for high tackles and that he had not received any related coaching.
“I want to make a couple of points,” Cheika said after announcing a team showing four changes to face Wales. “The framework is for referees – not the players – to decide whether there are red or yellow cards in a game. The officials are using that framework very well in matches.
“Our players are coached to tackle in the middle. We do not need the framework to tell them how to tackle. I am not sure where that is coming from. He [Hodge] is already nervous enough as it is. When people are asking you questions and you have done nothing wrong, you are nervous and may not have answers to all the questions on the tip of your tongue.
“I do not particularly want to talk about this today because there is a part of it which is us versus everyone else. We know that, and we are not going to let it derail us. We will suck it up and get focused on what is important – the match on Sunday. We are not going to let them get to us. We have talked about an appeal with the players.
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“I am with my players. I am as disappointed, as Reece is, but no obstacle will derail us. I do not care what World Rugby are doing. If there is one bloke they are not listening to it’s me, no matter what language I speak to them in. I am respected by my players and together we will battle away.”
Four players have been cited and one sent off for high tackles in the tournament so far. Asked for his observations, Wales head coach Warren Gatland told reporters on Friday: “We’ve all been briefed on the high tackles. We had a briefing in Wales before the World Cup about how it was going to be refereed and viewed.
“I do feel for players because you can get yourself in an awkward position and you end up making a high tackle. You could get sent off and it could cost your team the game or you could miss a few games. Particularly in the heat of the battle, some players can make a mistake, so we do need a little bit of sympathy, but we are continually driving that message to our players about discipline.
“You stay on the right side of the referee and don’t get sent off. I do feel for Reece. You saw the incident in real time and it didn’t look like much, but then you slow it down on replays and it looks a bit more sinister. He’s been unfortunate and got a ban. Hopefully, he does get some more game time in this World Cup.”
– Press Association
WATCH: Reece Hodge’s disciplinary hearing excuse doesn’t wash with fans
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