The Wasps number eight was tracking back as Northampton Saints star North dived over the line for his second try in their 52-30 win at Franklin’s Gardens, but his head collision with Hughes’ knee left him knocked out and needing to be stretchered off the pitch.
We believe it would be really harsh, and a real shame, if there was a ban on the back of this because this is probably the biggest game Nathan will play.
Wasps boss Dai Young before the disciplinary hearing
Hughes was red carded by referee Craig Maxwell-Keys and hauled before an RFU disciplinary committee, where the player and his club denied a charge of striking with the knee and/or shin, contrary to Law 10.4(a).
North, who suffered a fourth concussion this season now faces an extended spell on the sidelines, and must have a consultation with a neurologist before being allowed to take to the field again.
Speaking on Tuesday morning, before the hearing, Wasps director of rugby Dai Young reiterated his stance that the incident was not intentional.
“It’s a big decision because he’s one of our better players, make no bones about it,” Young said.
“I don’t think it was a red a card and most people thought that.
“We’re hoping that a sending off will be deemed sufficient because it hurt us enough on the night.
“We believe it would be really harsh, and a real shame, if there was a ban on the back of this because this is probably the biggest game Nathan will play.
“It would really penalise Nathan and the team.
“We’re pleading not guilty because we don’t believe it should have been a sending off.
“If there is a ban then we’ll see where we go from there.
“We’re not known for a fight and a punch up. We’ll put our case forward and they listen to it.”
The disciplinary committee did not take the same view as Wasps and found the player guilty of a reckless act of striking with the knee, with an entry point of a four-week ban reduced by one week because of Hughes’ clean record.
The ban means Wasps will have to make do without one of their key players for their European Champions Cup quarter-final at Toulon on Sunday, with Hughes clear to return on 28 April, or a week earlier if Wasps reach the Champions Cup semi-finals, which take place on 19-19 April.
“This was a three-week ban on the basis that no intention was found,” said Sir James Dingemans, who chaired the disciplinary committee.
“However, there was recklessness meaning that, notwithstanding the harm, it was a low entry point of four weeks with mitigation of one week to reflect his previous clean playing record.”
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