Rugby – England’s Hughes has ban hiked to six weeks after ‘joke’ tweet

Rugby Union - England Training - St Edward's School, Oxford, Britain - February 28, 2018 England's Nathan Hughes during training Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

(Reuters) – England number eight Nathan Hughes will miss tests against South Africa, New Zealand and Japan after having a striking ban extended to six weeks for describing his disciplinary hearing as a “joke” on Twitter.

The 27-year-old Wasps forward had earlier received a four-week ban for striking Gloucester’s Lewis Ludlow during the Oct. 6 Premiership match and tweeted “What a joke” after leaving the hearing.

He was hauled straight back to the hearing to explain the tweet after the disciplinary panel found out about it but another hearing was scheduled because Hughes’ counsel had already left, the Rugby Football Union said in a statement.

At the second hearing on Wednesday, Hughes’ ban was extended to six weeks.

Hughes gave evidence that “his guilty plea had only been entered on advice and that he did not genuinely believe that he was guilty of the offence in question which ultimately led to his frustration as expressed in the tweet,” the RFU said.

“Whilst the panel accept that the tweet was written in a moment of frustration and was deleted quickly by the player, it had already been picked up on social media and was then discussed publicly.

“The panel make it clear that tweets and comments such as this undermine the game, the core value of respect and the disciplinary process.”

Hughes’ back-dated ban will run until Nov. 20, making him eligible for selection for England’s test against Australia on Nov. 24.

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