An Australian rugby player accused of wiping blood on a referee and king-hitting an opponent has been banned from playing the sport for what amounts to four years.
The punishment was given by the ACT rugby judiciary in Canberra overnight, banning the player for eight weeks for the punch and 48 weeks for the blood incident; only weeks in which rugby was in season would be counted.
''So, all up it would take four years for him to come back, if he wanted to play after that,'' coach of the player's club Craig Robberds said.
Local police said no charges had been laid against the player as yet, with officers still wading through witness statements.
The bizarre incident took place on Saturday during a Wests vs Queanbeyan fourth-grade club match in Queanbeyan.
The un-named player was reported to have leant in and wiped blood on the match referee, ACT Rugby Referees Association president Robert Boyes, after he was issued a yellow card.
Boyes responded by giving the player a red card. As the player was leaving the field, he allegedly punched unsuspecting Queanbeyan Whites player Adam Res.
The possible sentences from the ACT rugby judiciary could have varied from a relatively light 24 weeks up to a complete life ban.
Boyes said he hoped officials would take a stand for the sake of referees, adding that the incident could deter young referees from joining rugby ranks.
''Treat referees with respect. We don't get paid for this job, we do it because we love the game and want to be part of it, just like the players do,'' he said.
- Canberra Times