The actual words used by the AR were “15 struck out with a flat hand” and the ref gave his reason to the captain as a “push to the face”. Take your pick.
The player who was struck was a player attached to a ruck.
The plot thickens , I wouldnt describe an incident in a ruck as being "off the ball"
So for clarity : this was between two players in a ruck. The player striking out was not the ball carrier ?
For even more clarity, the ball had just left the ruck and that was why (probably) the referee did not see it. The No15 entered the ruck area late and the altercation took place. The contact cannot be seen on the video but the AR was right next to the ‘ruck’ since it was very clise to the touchline.
In some regions there are some variations with regulations which stipulate no hand off above shoulder height.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t give any clarity on what is fair or unfair once you get above that age and we’re back to square one…U19: Players may not fend an opponent in the face.
Under 18 over here.