Reece Hodge is set to spend the next few weeks on the sidelines.
Reece Hodge is set to spend the next few weeks on the sidelines.

Benchmark ban shows up hair-larious double standards

Reece Hodge would have better off trying to yank Fiji's Peceli Yato to the ground by his hair instead of putting his own body on the line and trying to stop the old fashioned way.

At least that's the hidden message being told to players at a World Cup that's in danger of being decided in the judicial rooms instead of the field.

World Rugby's sense of justice gets wackier every day.

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At the same time as Hodge was given a ridiculous three-match ban for his clumsy trysaving tackle on Yato after it was deemed to be "an act of foul play" under the sport's new out of touch rules, an Argentine player got off completely after being caught pulling the hair of an opponent.

Not only that, but Pumas winger Matias Moroni was told he didn't even have to show up the judiciary and explain himself after being accused of hair-pulling in his team's opening loss to France.

Instead, he was issued with a Citing Commissioner Warning, which is World Rugby's version of being hit with a feather duster, because players don't have to answer any charges until they pick up three of them.

Welcome to world rugby's bizarre justice system which has left former players and coaches both fuming and baffled by the farcical decision to ban Hodge for a tackle even the independent commissioners who heard his case admitted was not deliberate.

"Totally wrong decision," England's 2003 World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward tweeted. "will have huge implications for the tournament - for me this is a yellow card and no more.

"Has any of those making this decision ever tried stopping someone as powerful as Yato by wrapping their arms around him ? - good luck if you try that !"

Former Wallaby Drew Mitchell told Fox Sports that World Rugby's clampdown on foul play had gone too far because the blazers setting the rules had forgotten rugby's a contact sport so collisions and injuries are a part of it.

"We sign up to play rugby and sometimes there is going to be contact to the head.

"It's just part of it and as players we accept that," Mitchell said.

"We appreciate players' well-being needs to be put first but we're playing a contact sport that sometimes can't be explained through black and white text and disciplinary action.

"Sometimes you've just got to use common sense and game sense into the sanctions.

"Getting QCs or people to come in without the flow or appreciation of the game is dangerous territory.

"People are fearful of where does this end?

"If Reece is three weeks then it's fair to assume a number of people will be facing hearings.

"It's a benchmark that I think they'll look back and regret, when the biggest talking point out of this World Cup is refereeing decisions and sanctions."