Lions full-back Stuart Hogg denies biting South Africa’s Willie Le Roux

Footage and stills of the incident have been circulated on social media.
Lions full-back Stuart Hogg denies biting South Africa’s Willie Le Roux

By Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent

British and Irish Lions full-back Stuart Hogg denies biting Willie Le Roux in Saturday’s 27-9 defeat by South Africa.

Hogg’s head made contact with the left arm of Le Roux when tempers flared in the second half of a fractious second Test at Cape Town Stadium.

Footage and stills of the incident have been circulated on social media, but the Scotland captain rejects claims that he bit his opposite number.

Clips of the incident involving Willie le Roux have gone viral on social media
Clips of the incident involving Willie Le Roux have gone viral on social media (Steve Haag/PA)

“Following speculation that has surfaced online, I would like to categorically deny any foul play in last night’s game,” Hogg said in a statement released by the Lions.

“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.”

Biting is treated severely by rugby’s judiciary and carries a low-end punishment of a 12-week ban, rising to in excess of 24 weeks for serious offences. The maximum length of suspension is 208 weeks.

It is considered alongside testicle grabbing and eye-gouging in the length of sanction, with only physical abuse or threatening words or actions towards match officials considered graver offences.

Hogg’s tussle with Le Roux as the rivals squared off in one of several flashpoints to disrupt an ugly second Test is among a series of incidents that will interest the citing officer, who has until 7pm on Sunday evening to lodge any complaints.

A clip of Maro Itoje resting his knee on the throat area of Damian De Allende has also been widely viewed on social media.

As Itoje rises to his feet, the protesting De Allende tackles him to the floor and then shapes to throw a punch downwards at the prone Lions second-row, who was man of the match in the first Test.

South Africa made their own contribution to a stormy evening that takes the series to a decider on Saturday.

Referee Ben O’Keeffe shows Cheslin Kolbe a yellow card for taking Conor Murray out in the air
Referee Ben O’Keeffe shows Cheslin Kolbe a yellow card for taking Conor Murray out in the air (Steve Haag/PA)

Cheslin Kolbe was fortunate to be punished with only a yellow card for taking Conor Murray out in the air and the Springbok wing also clattered into Tom Curry with a clumsy head-first tackle that the officials dismissed.

And referee Ben O’Keeffe also brushed over another potentially dangerous challenge by Faf De Klerk, who connected high with Murray.

The threshold for a citing is if the offence is deemed worthy of a red card and teams are also allowed to bring incidents to the officer’s attention within 12 hours of the match finishing.

Apart from the disciplinary fallout from the second Test of a series that has descended into a grudge match, Warren Gatland must pick his Lions up from their heaviest defeat since the disastrous 2005 tour to New Zealand.

Leading 9-6 at half-time, they leaked 21 unanswered points as South Africa took control of the air and the forward battle with tries by Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am underlining their superiority.

The Lions toiled up front and their back three were vulnerable to the aerial bombardment they knew was coming, so changes appear inevitable.

“Selection has been really tough and there are a lot of players in the squad that it was a toss of a coin in who we selected and who we didn’t,” Gatland said.

“We’ll spend the next couple of days reviewing the game and then looking at what we think is the best 23 to put out.

“Whether that’s some fresh faces who haven’t been involved in the first two games…we have got lots of options to give us energy and perhaps some momentum as well.

“Or do we put out that same team and give them the chance to redeem themselves? Those are the conversations we’ll have over the next couple of days.”

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