An unnamed Perth Bayswater player has been punished with a 96-match ban following a Premier Grade match against Associates on 22nd of April.
Despite not being penalised during the game, footage was released to Rugby Western Australia afterwards which showed referee Ian Sunderland being knocked to the ground by the assailant.
The 96-match ban is stipulated to be served only during the rugby season, which means the player in question will miss 5-years worth of matches.
“Due to the high-end and deliberate nature of the offence, a sanction of 96 weeks – effectively, almost five years – was handed down,” read a statement by Rugby Western Australia.
Chief executive of Rugby WA Simon Taylor added: “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 president Darrell Stops has said they “accepted the decision” and “don’t condone what he did”. He then added: “We have genuine concerns for referee Ian Sunderland and his injury from the incident, and that was foremost in our thoughts.
“But at the same time, we are trying to support our player, who is not in a good space.”
Physically abusing a referee is act that will always be dealt with in the harshest of terms.