Rugby World Cup 2019: Australia wing Reece Hodge out of pool stage after ban for high tackle

The 25-year-old hit Fiji’s Peceli Yato on Saturday and a disciplinary hearing has deemed it worthy of a red card

Jack de Menezes
In Kobe
Wednesday 25 September 2019 12:02
Rugby World Cup: England v USA match

Australia wing Reece Hodge will miss the rest of the Rugby World Cup pool stage, with a disciplinary hearing deeming his high tackle on Fiji's Peceli Yato last Saturday worthy of a red card.

Yato left the field following the 26th-minute incident, and didn’t return as he failed a Head Injury Assessment due to concussion.

The three-man panel deemed Hodge had committed a reckless challenge – as opposed to a deliberate one – that was high and included contact to the head with a high degree of danger.

As a result, Hodge was handed a six-week ban, which meets World Rugby’s framework of a minimum mid-entry level punishment due to contact with the head.

However, due to Hodge’s “exemplary” disciplinary record and conduct at his hearing, the panel gave the 25-year-old full mitigation, which equates to a 50 per cent reduction in the suspension.

Therefore, the ban has been cut from six weeks to three weeks, meaning Hodge will be available for selection once again should the Wallabies reach the quarter-finals.

A World Rugby statement read: “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.

“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.

Reece Hodge tackles Peceli Yato

“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.”

The tackle went unpunished during the match, despite Fiji asking referee Ben O’Keeffe consulting TMO Graham Hughes, with the pair deciding it did not warrant any punishment.

Hodge went on to score a try and a penalty, as Australia won 39-21 despite trailing at the time of Hodge’s tackle on Yato.

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