Rugby player banned for 96 weeks | Sunday Observer

Rugby player banned for 96 weeks

21 May, 2023

A rugby union player has been banned for 96 weeks after being found guilty of physically abusing a referee.

Footage shows the unnamed Perth Bayswater player knocking referee Ian Sunderland to the ground during a Premier Grade match on 22 April.

Rugby Western Australia has said the ban equates to almost five years as it is served only during the rugby season.

“We have accepted the decision and we don’t condone what he did,” said Perth Bayswater president Darrell Stops.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported no action was taken during the game in Western Australia as it was initially deemed accidental, but the action was later determined to be deliberate and the player was cited.

The player was found guilty by a Rugby Western Australia Judicial Committee, with the length of the ban the strictest available under World Rugby laws.

“Due to the high-end and deliberate nature of the offence, a sanction of 96 weeks - effectively, almost five years - was handed down,” Rugby WA said in a statement.

Perth Bayswater president Darrell Stops added: “We have genuine concerns for referee Ian Sunderland and his injury from the incident, and that was foremost in our thoughts.

“But at the same time, we are trying to support our player, who is not in a good space.”

Chief executive of Rugby WA Simon Taylor added: “We strongly condemn any form of abuse or harassment towards match officials, and are determined to ensure that any such behaviour is stamped out of the game.

“The rugby community must remain vigilant against abuse towards match officials, and we hope that this sanction contributes to ensuring a more respectful approach to officials at any level of rugby.” The game saw Perth lose 26-33 against Associates in what is the highest level of domestic club competition in Western Australia.

They are the oldest continually operating side in the region and have won the Premier Grade eight times. (BBC Sport)