Perth rugby player hit with five-year ban for physically abusing referee

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A Perth club rugby player has been suspended for 96 games, lasting a period of almost five years, after being found guilty of assaulting a referee during a game in Western Australia’s top premiership competition.

Rugby WA confirmed it had issued the suspension to a Perth Bayswater player, whose name was withheld, after an incident on April 22 in a WA Rugby Premier Grade clash between Associates and Perth Bayswater.

A Perth Bayswater team in a huddle in 2021. The Herald does not suggest any player pictured is involved in the judicial matter.Credit: Facebook/Perth Bayswater

According to sources with knowledge of the incident, the Perth Bayswater player knocked the referee over from behind during the run of play, but the official believed it had been accidental at the time, and did not take action in the game.

Via witness statements and video of the collision, however, the incident was subsequently determined to be deliberate and on April 26, the player was cited by RugbyWA for physical abuse of a Match Official, under World Rugby’s Law 9.28.

Perth Bayswater is the oldest rugby club in Western Australia.

Rugby Australia’s integrity unit were also made aware of the incident.

Under World Rugby’s laws, the highest possible sanction is a 96-week suspension. That punishment was handed down on May 2, and the appeals period expired last week.

RugbyWA said in a statement: “RugbyWA can confirm the suspension of a Perth Bayswater Rugby Club player under the charge of physical abuse of a Match Official (under Law 9.28).

“The suspension follows an incident from a Premier Grade game on 22 April 2023 – a RugbyWA Judicial Committee finding the player guilty.

“Due to the high-end and deliberate nature of the offence, a sanction of 96 weeks – effectively, almost five years – was handed down.”

RugbyWA chief executive Simon Taylor said in the release: “We strongly condemn any form of abuse or harassment towards match officials, and are determined to ensure that any such behaviour is stamped out of the game.

“The rugby community must remain vigilant against abuse towards match officials, and we hope that this sanction contributes to ensuring a more respectful approach to officials at any level of rugby.”

Perth Bayswater Rugby Union Club is the oldest continually operating rugby club in Western Australia, after being formed in April 1905.

The incident comes after a spate of violence towards referee in multiple sports.

An entire soccer team was withdrawn from a suburban Sydney competition after a Greenacre Eagles player who attended as a spectator allegedly punched a linesman last month, leaving his jaw broken in three places. The spectator was refused bail after being charged with assault.

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