Player banned for threatening ref
A rugby player who threatened a referee has been banned from playing until 2014 - but he left a hearing in protest before learning of his fate.
Wairarapa-Bush representative Tommy Harmon, who captains Masterton club Pioneer, was sent off for dissent during a Tui Cup game against Carterton on July 7.
Shortly after being red-carded, he charged back on to the pitch to confront referee Alistair Payne, and had to be restrained by team-mates and officials.
At a judiciary hearing on Wednesday night, Harmon faced one charge of abusive language and one of threatening behaviour.
The second charge carries a maximum ban of five years.
Judiciary chairman David Cameron said Harmon was banned from playing until March 2014, meaning he would miss the rest of this season plus all of next season.
But before the hearing could start, Pioneer official Tere Torea handed a letter to the panel then left with Harmon.
The letter said the hearing had been compromised after Harmon's case was discussed at a council of clubs meeting last week.
"We had already postponed the hearing once, so we decided we would carry on without them present," Mr Cameron said.
Pioneer coach Mike Harmon said the club had been unfairly singled out.
"We don't support what Thomas did, but with everything in the media all week, he was already guilty before he got [to the hearing]."
Pioneer president Dan Te Tau said he would not comment on the matter until he had attended a club meeting last night.
A spectator at the same game, Lungi McGregor, also faced the judiciary, charged with abusing the referee.
He was ordered to pay a $50 fine to the Referees Association and warned against any further abusive behaviour.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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