Australia wing Reece Hodge revealed he hadn’t been trained on World Rugby’s new protocol for policing high tackles as he was suspended at the Rugby World Cup, an official report of his disciplinary hearing revealed on Thursday.
Hodge, banned for three games for a hit that concussed Fiji’s Peceli Yato, admitted he had “no effective knowledge” of the new framework, which guides referees when they are deciding how to punish high tackles, the report said.
“The player conceded that he had no effective knowledge of WR’s (World Rugby) ‘Decision making framework for high tackles’; had not been trained on it; was not across it because the tackles he makes are predominantly in the waist to knees area,” said the detailed report of the hearing.
It added that this statement was “of some general concern” to the three-member disciplinary panel, which met on Wednesday.
Hodge became the first player cited and banned at the Rugby World Cup following the incident in Australia’s 39-21 Pool D win over Fiji on Saturday.
The new high-tackle protocol has been a major talking point in the build-up to the World Cup, with many expecting a rush of red cards as referees crack down on dangerous hits.
Refereeing has been in the spotlight at the World Cup after World Rugby took the unusual step of criticizing the standard of officiating, following a number of controversies.