Petone winger Savelio Sagato struck referee Michael Christenhusz in the face after he took exception to being sent off for head butting a Hutt Old Boys Marist player during a Senior 2 match at the Hutt Recreation Ground.
A Wellington Rugby judicial hearing last night imposed a life ban on Sagato and a 12-week concurrent sentence for the initial red card.
“The actions of this player were completely unacceptable, hence the severity of the penalty. This course of action sends the strongest possible message to players, coaches and spectators that referee abuse of any kind, either verbal or physical, will not be tolerated under any circumstances,” said Wellington Rugby chief executive James Te Puni.
A report of the match on the Petone rugby club’s website said the incident had sullied the name of the club.
“An unexpected behaviour by one of our players will ruin everything good about rugby especially for our people and our club,” said coach Michael Schuster.
Schuster apologised to Christenhusz in the report adding: “I am very sorry for what happened on Saturday … this is not what Petone Rugby Football Club expected from any of their members especially rugby players.”
Sagato, who did not attend the hearing, has 14 days to appeal from the date he receives written notification of the decision.
(Article first appeared on Stuff.co.nz)