World Cup potentially over for banned Reece Hodge
A four-hour judicial hearing in Tokyo deemed Hodge had met the high tackle sanction threshold when he collided with forward Peceli Sato during Saturday’s win over Fiji in Sapporo.
The ban means Hodge will miss all three remaining pool games and will only become available to play if Australia qualify for the quarter-finals.
Hodge had been cited for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 (dangerous tackle) in the 25th minute of the Pool D match on September 21.
The committee, chaired by Nigel Hampton QC (New Zealand), former international coach Frank Hadden (Scotland) and former referee José Luis Rolandi (Argentina), viewed all the available broadcast angles of the incident, which resulted in Yato requiring a head injury assessment (HIA).
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In considering all the available evidence, including multiple broadcast angles and submissions from Hodge and his legal representative, the committee deemed that the incident was an act of foul play and warranted a red card in line with the high tackle sanction framework.
In following the framework, the committee determined:
- There was an act of foul play (which was reckless, rather than deliberate);
- The act of foul play was a high tackle;
- There was contact with the head;
- There was a high degree of danger.
Given the above outcomes, the committee determined that the act of foul play warranted a red card. The committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory mid-range entry point, which was introduced in 2017 to mitigate the risk of head injuries, which according to World Rugby’s sanctions table carries a minimum six-match suspension.
John McKee has his say on what Australia's Michael Cheika said about Fiji and Reece Hodge
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 24, 2019
Having acknowledged Hodge’s exemplary disciplinary record, good character and conduct at the hearing, the committee reduced the six-match entry point by three matches, resulting in a sanction of three matches.
Hodge will miss Australia’s three remaining pool matches. The suspension will end at midnight on October 11 after which he is free to resume playing. The player has the right to appeal the decision within 48 hours of receiving the written decision.
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