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What unfolded when Worcester spoke to Joe Schmidt over Ted Hill ban

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Getty Images)

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Worcester boss Jonathan Thomas has revealed that his recent call for World Rugby to look at the tip-tackle framework following a Gallagher Premiership red card and ban for England back-rower Ted Hill led to a Zoom call with Joe Schmidt, the governing body’s soon-to-depart director of rugby and high performance. It was October 6, just shortly after the confirmation that Hill had been banned for three matches following his red card four days earlier by referee Andrew Jackson, when Thomas spoke out about the disciplinary framework governing that specific type of foul play. 


“There is no mitigation within the framework for what was a completely freak accident,” bemoaned Thomas about the red-carded collision with Gloucester’s Lloyd Evans that put an end to the aspirations of Worcester captain Hill getting selected in the England squad for this November’s series of internationals. 

“We have an issue with the framework on that particular law and it is something that needs looking at by World Rugby because I just find it astonishing that a player is going to get a three-game ban for essentially getting kicked in the neck.

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Ex-England skipper Chris Robshaw guests on the latest RugbyPass Offload
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“We had to plead guilty because by definition it was a tip tackle. We didn’t want to risk Ted getting banned for any longer and the panel, it was a fair hearing but all those guys on the panel can do is judge Ted on the framework. 

“The issue is the framework itself and the reason why Ted was in the hearing was that the opposing player led with his boot while he had his other foot on the ground. He was balanced and hit him in the neck. I don’t understand it and I don’t get it – it’s something that we will take up with World Rugby.”

Worcester did exactly that and head coach Thomas was granted an audience with ex-Ireland coach Schmidt over Zoom to air his club’s grievance over the suspension that has now run its course and will see Hill back in action next Saturday when the Warriors host Sale at Sixways. Asked by RugbyPass how the early October determination to take the Hill affair up with World Rugby played out, Thomas replied that he did indeed get to speak with the New Zealander about the incident.


“We had no issue with the judiciary, it was a fair process,” explained the coach. “The issue we had was the tip tackle framework and we went through the official channels and I had a really good zoom with Joe Schmidt. It was fantastic because Joe is obviously a rugby man, he has been a world-class coach and he gets it. He gets the frustration and gets the fact that there is grey sometimes in some of these frameworks. 

“The really brilliant thing with Joe was in terms of being able to vent. He was able to hear your frustrations and then the big thing, the real asset to World Rugby is Joe can then go back and give that feedback through the appropriate channels. Joe was pretty understanding I suppose around our frustrations and he is as aware as anyone that there are some inconsistencies at the moment and that is part of his job, to support that process. 

“Where I am really confident in World Rugby and even the law interpretations at the moment is it is all geared towards making the game better, safer and more entertaining and there is a lot of good going on. I don’t want to come across as being negative towards World Rugby, but the tip tackle framework certainly needs to be looked at. Joe received that loud and clear and hopefully something will come of that.”



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