An 18-year-old Australian rugby player was suspended for 10 years after punching a referee in the face. The attack was caught on video during a live game. Mark Meafua has been banned for ten years from playing the sport after punching the referee and walking off the field. His teammates looked on in disbelief and the referee tried to stumble away from the player looking like he was nearly knocked out. Meafua struck the blow during a grand final match against the Newcastle Wanderers.
The referee, Niklas Gaal had red carded Meafua for doing an illegal move called a lift tackle. The violent tackle resulted in a scuffle and that's when Gaal red carded Meafua. The stocky player flew into a rage and sucker punches Gaal right in the neck. On top of the ten-year ban, Meafua was given a 10 game ban for the scuffle leading up to the punch. Andy Fairful, the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union (NHRU) manager, said "It is unacceptable to verbally or physically abuse a referee. The sanctions show that if you undertake that behavior, you will be out of the game for a serious amount of time."
On a more positive side, Fairful said, "But, as well as ensuring Nik's well being, the union has an obligation to provide Mark with the appropriate support. Within that 10 years, the referee’s association and Maitland club will work the young man to assist in some rehabilitation." Meafua was charged with assault when police came to his house and hauled him to jail. The angry player will have to appeal the charges by the end of the week or accept them.
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