It is hard to say how a Rugby World Cup judicial panel consisting of a New Zealander, a Scot and an Argentinian could be considered independent when it comes time to decide if Reece Hodge’s tackle on Fiji’s Peceli Yato will see Hodge erased from the Wallabies ahead of Australia’s important game with Wales, but some, including Wallabies’ coach Michael Cheika, took exception to the manner in which the Fijian side handled the matter.
What is a World Cup without controversy?
Hodge’s tackle was cleared on the field during the 26th minute of Australia’s hard-fought 39 – 21 victory over Fiji in Sapporo, but Fiji elected to refer the matter anyway.
Yato was unable to continue under rugby’s HIA process, but the process does seem to be more than a little subjective and World Rugby has change the rule recently in the wake of an incident involving the All Blacks’ Same Cane in New Zealand’s 23 – 13 win over South Africa.
New Zealand successfully lobbied World Rugby to modify the rule after Cane was cleared to return, but was not permitted to come back for taking more than 10 minutes to have his head examined.
Perhaps World Rugby needs to have the Head Injury Assessment.
We do not know for certain if Fiji’s player beat the 10-minute deadline, or the outcome of his HIA, other than to say he did not return.
New Zealand can win without raising Cane, but can the Wallabies say the same about Hodge?
“Probably the most disappointing thing was the Fijians,” Cheika said Monday morning. “I think after the game we had a lot of friendly discussion with myself and the coach [John McKee]; he talked to our other coaches, there was no mention of anything.”
If Hodge is rubbed off, the likely replacements would seem to be Dane Haylett-Petty or Adam Ashely-Cooper, but at any rate, changing the HIA rules in the middle of the tournament seems somewhat dodgy, even though Steve Hansen and his lieutenants were accurate to say that the clock on Cane should have not started until Cane made his way to where the HIA was performed.