Hodge appeared to tackle Yato without the use of his arm in the 25th minute of the Wallabies’ 39-21 victory over the Pacific Islanders at the Sopporo Dome, with Yato leaving the field immediately and failing a head injury assessment [HIA] after suffering a concussion.
Yato will also miss Fiji’s next game against Uruguay on Thursday as it falls within the mandatory six-day return-to-play window, which prevents players suffering from a concussion from playing again until their symptoms have cleared up.
World Rugby issued a statement on Sunday to confirm that the 25-year-old will face a disciplinary hearing that should take place before their Australia’s next match against Wales on Sunday, with the wing facing a potential World Cup ban.
A World Rugby statement read: “Australia winger Reece Hodge has been cited by John Montgomery (Scotland) for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 (dangerous tackle) in the 25th minute of Australia’s Rugby World Cup 2019 Pool D match against Fiji on 21 September.
“Hodge will attend a hearing before an independent judicial committee chaired by Nigel Hampton, QC (New Zealand), former international coach Frank Hadden (Scotland) and former referee José Luis Rolandi (Argentina).
“The hearing will take place in Tokyo with the date and time to be confirmed shortly.”
The incident caused controversy during the match as Yato had already scored a try for Fiji – who were leading 11-7 at the time – and was attempting to score another when Hodge’s tackle stopped him in his tracks. Hodge had already been on the receiving end of three powerful collisions by that point, having twice attempted to tackle Semi Radradra and once with Josua Tuisova, though while the incident was referred to English television match official Rowan Kitt, it was deemed to be legal.
However, Hodge now risks a lengthy ban. If he is found to have hit Yato with a shoulder charge to the head, any punishment would have to at least be classed at the mid-entry level, which would result in a six-week suspension or more before any mitigation. If Hodge were to receive full mitigation and have any ban halved, he would still miss the rest of the pool stage at least, with the Wallabies set to face Wales, Uruguay and Georgia before the knockout stages commence.
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