Ben Tameifuna handed five-week suspension
It's time out for Big Ben Tameifuna after New Zealand Rugby's judiciary banned him five weeks for his shove on referee Glen Jackson last weekend.
Tameifuna shoved referee Glen Jackson in the 72nd minute of Waikato's national provincial championship victory at North Harbour on Saturday.
Citing commissioner John Wootton reporter the incident after the match.
The three hour hearing was held in Auckland today, with judicial officer Chris Morris hearing evidence from Tameifuna, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie, Waikato coaching and team management, match officials, including Glen Jackson, and viewing video footage of the incident.
The Waikato prop was focused on his defensive duties when he shoved Jackson, and after the match said there were no hard feelings between himself and the referee.
Ironically, Tameifuna was shown a yellow card moments after the incident for playing the ball on the ground, unrelated to the push.
Judicial officer Morris accepted that Tameifuna was focused on his defensive duties, and there was no malicious intent.
''Having taking into account the evidence, the player's post-match apology to the referee, his full acknowledgement that his actions were inappropriate, I have endeavoured to impose a proportionate sanction taking into account other similar situations from overseas decisions,'' he said.
''However it is imperative that players instinctively know that it is never, under any circumstances, appropriate for a player to abuse, verbally or physically, a match official.
''Taking all those factors into account, I find that a suspension of five weeks is appropriate and proportionate to the offending. Ben Tameifuna is banned immediately from all rugby up to and including 5 October.''
Waikato coach Jonny Walters said his side planned for the worst ahead of their clash with Tasman tomorrow, and Tameifuna trained with the reserves yesterday morning in anticipation of the suspension.
Josh Hohneck will start at prop in Tameifuna's absence.