School silent on tutor's rugby violence

A Tauranga high school that employs a teacher who has a history of violence on the rugby field is refusing to say whether his behaviour is acceptable.

Simon Chisholm, 30, is a fulltime tutor at the Tauranga Boys' College off-site alternative education facility, where he looks after troubled youth. He plays hooker for Te Puke Sports premier team and has found himself in trouble with the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union's judicial committee twice this year.

In April he was sent off for punching another player, and was suspended for five weeks.

Just three weeks after serving that ban, he was cited again, this time for stomping on the face of an opponent during a match against Rotoiti on June 15. Two judicial hearings into the stomping were held, the second on Friday night, and yesterday the union told the Sunday Star-Times Chisholm had been suspended for four weeks.

Chisholm declined to comment.

His victim in the latest incident, Joe Royal, who is employed by the rugby union as an administrator, told the Star-Times he believed at the time that the stomping was deliberate.

He received four stitches to a cut to his nose, and had to go to hospital when the wound became infected. Royal said there was no place for violence in sport but he was happy to let the "powers that be" deal with the matter.

The incidents come at a time when violence in the schoolyard and on the sportsfield is under scrutiny, and just weeks after Kelston Boys' High student Stephen Dudley died following an assault after rugby training.

Before Friday's judicial hearing the Star-Times asked Tauranga College's acting principal, Ian Stuart, whether Chisholm's on-field behaviour was acceptable, whether staff were expected to set good examples in this area and what action, if any, the school had taken.

In a statement Stuart said details of the stomping were "somewhat confused" and it would be "inadvisable" to comment while it was still before a judicial hearing.

"What we can confirm is that the allegations do not relate to any activities linked to our school." He did not return messages yesterday.

Chisholm was himself the victim of sickening on-field violence last year, when he was hit from behind and knocked unconscious by Te Puna player Uenuku Pieta, who was charged with assault with intent to injure.

After Pieta was sentenced to 200 hours' community work, Chisholm told the Bay of Plenty Times his attacker was a "coward" who had "taken rugby away from me".

He claimed he could no longer play rugby because doctors had told him he could die if he received another knock.

"I've got kids and I'm not going to put that on my kids, no way."

Yet within a few weeks Chisholm was back playing.

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union CEO Mike Rogers said the Te Puke club had confirmed Chisholm had medical clearance to play, and the union was comfortable with that.

He did not know why Chisholm had said he could never play rugby again. "I don't know if that was just his emotion talking, or whether it's factual or not."

Rogers said foul play was unacceptable. "Any instance of foul play, regardless of the individual or at what level, is just not appropriate. Sport's about having fun and enjoying it."

Chisholm himself spoke out about violence after Pieta's sentencing.

"There are people out there that think doing this kind of thing is acceptable. People don't realise their actions and what they can do to people," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.

Sunday Star Times