Stuart Hogg and Scotland players' 'very minor' rule breach played down by coach

Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Baxter has poured cold water on the protocol breach that saw Stuart Hogg and five international team-mates disciplined after Scotland’s Six Nations match in Italy.

Baxter backed his player and claimed there was ambiguity around what was permitted when the players returned to the team hotel from Rome.

Hogg and five others including fly-half Finn Russell left the squad base to socialise in Edinburgh, but were called back when Scotland officials learned of their plans to celebrate Ali Price’s 50th cap. They were each disciplined, and Russell dropped out of Gregor Townsend’s starting XV for the Six Nations closer in Ireland while Sione Tuipulotu returned to Glasgow Warriors early.

Captain Hogg did start the 22-5 defeat in Dublin and confirmed afterwards he had apologised to his fellow players and staff. He now returns to his club who face Premiership leaders Leicester Tigers on Sunday with Baxter’s backing over the “very minor” incident.

Rob Baxter, Exeter Chiefs' Director of Rugby, has played down the team protocol breach comitted by Stuart Hogg and five other Scotland players as 'very minor'. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

"It's not like anyone's gone out and got drunk and got into a fight, or come back at six o'clock in the morning or missed training,” Baxter said. "So I can probably understand why the Scottish people involved are a little frustrated that this has been a big issue, because it clearly hasn't been."

He added: "I think people are trying to make out there has been a clear breach of team rules - there's not been.

"I think there was a little bit of ambiguity over what was supposed to happen when he got back to the hotel. That ambiguity was cleared up with a phone call asking the guys to come back."

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Scotland Six Nations disciplinary breach: Players wanted to celebrate Ali Price'...
Scotland's Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell and Ali Price were among six players disciplined after returning back to the team hotel from the match in Rome against Italy. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

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