Cape Town - Nathan Hughes may have sent the most expensive
tweet in rugby history as the England No 8 awaits punishment for
appearing to mock the verdict of an RFU disciplinary panel.
According to the Stuff website, Hughes
looks certain to miss England's Test against the Springboks (November 3), All Blacks (seven days later) and Japan on November 17,
after tweeting "what a joke" during his hearing for an alleged punch.
27-year-old was already facing a six-week ban after he was cited for
punching Lewis Ludlow in the head in Wasps' loss to Gloucester in last
weekend's English Premiership, but his hastily deleted tweet looks set
to land him in further trouble.
The UK's Daily Telegraph reported that his impending suspension
could be extended beyond England's first three Tests next month to
include Australia's visit to Twickenham, on November 24, so Hughes
would miss out on the match fee of more than £23 000 (R440 000).
In an apparent reference to Hughes' tweet, the RFU said "an issue that arose during the evening" meant
the disciplinary panel would "reconvene in not less than seven days" to
consider his case.
"No judgment will be issued by the panel in
this period and the panel direct that the player, Wasps Rugby and the
RFU are to make no further comment until the case has concluded. The
player remains suspended until the conclusion of the matter,"
the RFU's statement said.
Hughes' tweet was posted at 20:37 (UK time) on Tuesday, but it was quickly deleted.
Fijian-born Hughes, who moved to England in 2013 after playing 13
games for Auckland from 2009-2013, had a brain explosion in the final
minute of the match against Gloucester when he was on his back, pinned
down by Ludlum.
As the pair wrestled, Hughes appeared to land a punch with his right fist to the left side of the Gloucester flank's head.
Losing Hughes, who has played in 19 Tests for England since
2016, would be a huge blow. At 1.96m and 125kg, he is a massive physical
Meanwhile, England coach Eddie Jones has growing problems with his squad as the end of year Tests near.
Jones has wings Jonny May and Marland Yarde under injury clouds from last weekend.
May was forced off after just seven minutes of the Tigers' latest
match, leaving the field with his arm in a sling after injuring his
Scans showed there was no break, but further
assessments will reveal the full extent of the damage and how long he
will be sidelined.
May has been England's top finisher in recent seasons and was a standout on their June tour of South Africa.
Yarde dislocated his left knee in Sale's win over Newcastle.