Top Waikato coach banned
A top Waikato coach and former New Zealand sevens player has been banned from rugby for a year after a scuffle at a club rugby match.
It is the second lengthy ban for bad behaviour on or near the rugby field in weeks, after the rugby union is understood to have cracked down with a two-year ban for a player who spat at a referee in a separate incident.
Morrinsville Sports Rugby Club coach Waisake Masirewa was last week banned from coaching for 12 months after the former New Zealand sevens and Counties-Manukau player was involved in a physical confrontation with Hamilton Old Boys captain Johan Bardoul at the end of the teams' Waikato premier club match at Campbell Park in Morrinsville the Saturday before.
Old Boys won 39-10 and it was after fulltime when the players were shaking hands that Masirewa became involved in a physical altercation with Bardoul.
The Waikato Times understands the incident may have stemmed from an earlier off-field incident.
Masirewa, who has three sons and a nephew in the Morrinsville side, was also an assistant coach for the Waikato sevens team. When contacted, the Fijian declined to comment on the incident.
Bardoul, who also plays for Thames Valley in the Heartland Championship, did not want to comment either, saying he was annoyed the incident had been uncovered, saying there was a "deal" between the two clubs to not release the incident to media.
Despite Masirewa being ousted for a year, Old Boys life member Ross McDonald has questioned the length of the punishment – 12 months.
"That's a life ban we're talking about," McDonald said. "It's not as if he's even a spectator, he is the coach of a senior A team and he holds a position with the Waikato Union.
"It sort of runs right against what they're saying and what they're doing," McDonald said, referring to the union's endeavour to clean up games by calling a meeting of Waikato clubs three weeks ago because of a flurry of red cards.
But Waikato Rugby Union chief executive Graham Bowen defended Masirewa's sentence and said previous meetings on red-card incidents had netted some positive results.
"The judicial process that took place was a very fair hearing for Masirewa," Bowen said. "This has effectively ended his immediate future coaching the Waikato sevens team, it's ended his ability to coach at Morrinsville next season, so it's a fairly stiff penalty in my opinion, but it's also in keeping with the seriousness of the offence."
This would have been the longest suspension handed out in Bowen's four years in charge, however, he confirmed that on the same night, Eastern Suburbs division two player Nathan Thompson was banned until the end of 2014 for spitting at a referee in a game last weekend.