Hogg 'would never bite opponent' after social media claims

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Stuart Hogg denied accusations of biting an opponent that were leveled at him on social media after the British and Irish Lions’ heavy 27-9 defeat to the Springboks in Saturday's second test in Cape Town.

Video footage circulating on various social networks appears to show the Scotland fullback biting opposite number Willie le Roux on the arm, though the footage is inconclusive. Le Roux seems to immediately turn to referee Ben O’Keeffe to complain.

“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 Sunday. “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."

Hogg said: “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.”

The final test is on Saturday. The Lions won the first test 22-17.

Prior to the video surfacing, Lions coach Warren Gatland had already refused to discuss the refereeing when he was questioned over the yellow card handed to Cheslin Kolbe in the first half in which the Springbok winger took out an airborne Conor Murray. The yellow card could easily have been red.

“I’m not going to comment on the referee’s decisions,” Gatland said. “It didn’t look great from where I was, but he decided it was a yellow card.”

Gatland was also quizzed about the now infamous 62-minute video released by South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus on social media where he questioned several calls by Australian referee Nic Berry during the first test.

“We’ve got systems and processes in place, and hopefully World Rugby does look at that in terms of making sure that everyone follows the protocols and I think that’s important," Gatland said. “I hope it doesn’t get to a situation where we end up with things on Twitter, and people airing their views in that way and not through the proper channels.”

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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