STUART Hogg has rejected claims made on social media last night that he bit South African full-back Willie le Roux during the Lions’ 27-9 defeat in Cape Town. Video clips showing the Scotland captain and Le Roux squaring up to each other were shared widely on social media, but Hogg angrily insisted that he had not done anything untoward.
“Following speculation that has surfaced online, I would like to categorically deny any foul play in last night’s game,” the Lions No 15 said in an official statement issued by the tourists this morning. “I would never bite an opponent and I am annoyed and upset by this unsubstantiated accusation. I’ve always been proud of playing rugby in the spirit of the game.
“Respect to the Springboks for their deserved win yesterday. The squad is hurting after last night’s defeat, but it’s all to play for next week. It’s going to be a cup final and everyone’s going to be up for it.”
Hogg could still face action over the alleged incident in the second Test if the citing commissioner decides he – or Le Roux, for that matter – has a case to answer. Lions lock Maro Itoje is in a similar position after allegations that he kneeled on Damien de Allende’s neck as the Springboks centre lay on the ground.
According to World Rugby’s rules, citing commissioners normally have 48 hours after a match to decide if any further disciplinary action should be taken. That nominal time limited can be greater, although in this case, with the third and final Test due to take place on Saturday, any decisions are expected sooner rather than later.
“A Citing Commissioner is an independent official, appointed by the competition organiser, the union in which the match is taking place, or World Rugby,” the global governing body says. “They are responsible for citing players who commit any act of foul play which warrants a Red Card sanction.
“Citing Commissioners may cite players for an act(s) of foul play detected by the Match Officials (referee, assistant referee or TMO) and which may have been the subject of referee action. As a general rule, the Citing Commissioner should carefully consider the actions taken by the Match Officials and support the on-field decision and only consider taking action if it is ‘clear and obvious’, based on all the evidence available to the Citing Commissioner post-match, that the player actions justify a citing (red card equivalent) or Citing Commissioner Warning.
“A Citing Commissioner may not cite a player for an act(s) of foul play when the player has been sent off except where the sending off is a consequence of two yellow cards. A player in that situation may also be cited for the act(s) of foul play which resulted in either or both yellow card(s).
“Citing Commissioners may cite a player if they have been temporarily suspended (yellow card). Such citing may be made in respect of the incident(s) for which the player was temporarily suspended or otherwise.”
That last point means that Springboks winger Cheslin Kolbe could still be cited for taking Conor Murray out in the air – an action for which he was shown a yellow card. Other off-the-ball incidents in an ill-tempered match could also be examined.