SAPPORO, Japan (AP) — Australia winger Reece Hodge was cited Sunday for a dangerous tackle on Fiji flanker Peceli Yato in their Rugby World Cup group game and could be facing a ban of between two and 10 weeks.
Hodge’s shoulder made contact with Yato’s head and neck area while making the try-saving tackle on the Fijian in the first half of Australia’s 39-21 win at the Sapporo Dome on Saturday. Hodge didn’t appear to use his arms in making the tackle.
World Rugby said Hodge will attend a disciplinary hearing in Tokyo on a date to be confirmed. If he’s found guilty, Hodge will be banned for at least two weeks unless there are mitigating factors. His ban could be as much as 6-10 weeks if the disciplinary panel views the offense as serious.
The imposing utility back has played 38 tests for Australia and scored one of the Wallabies’ six tries in the win over Fiji. Two-time champion Australia is set to face Six Nations winner Wales in a crucial Pool D match next Sunday.
Yato left the field with concussion after the tackle and missed the rest of the match. He could be ruled out of Fiji’s next game against Uruguay on Wednesday.
Fiji players complained about the tackle at the time of the incident and asked referee Ben O’Keefe to refer it to the Television Match Official. But neither O’Keefe nor the TMO took any action.
Until the tackle, Yato was among the best players on the field and had the Australians under constant pressure.
He had already scored one try and Fiji was leading Australia when the big, powerful backrower had to leave the field. Fiji coach John McKee said losing Yato had a “big impact” on the game as Australia came from behind to win.
World Rugby says it’s taking a tough stance on illegal tackles where contact is made to the head. The infringement can lead to a straight red card in games.
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