The Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union has suspended Maitland player Mark Meafua for 10 years after he pleaded guilty to shoving a referee last weekend.
Meafua, 18, was about to be issued with a red card when he lashed out at the 19-year-old referee Niklas Gaal to the shock of all in attendance at the under-19s grand final.
The player read out a three-page apology during a two-hour hearing last night, reported the Newcastle Herald.
The 10-year ban for 'physical abuse of an official' was handed down on top of a 10-match sanction for a tackle that led to the red card.
The Herald reported Meafua was set to win the competition's best-and-fairest award but was ruled ineligible.
He was arrested by police after the game and charged with common assault, with a Maitland Local Court date set for October 4.
“We have not seen anything like this in our zone in 30 years,” NHRU general manager Andy Fairfull said, via the Herald.
“It is unacceptable to verbally or physically abuse a referee. The sanctions show that if you undertake that behaviour, you will be out of the game for a serious amount of time.
“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.”
Gaal was not seriously injured in the incident and finished out the match. He did not attend the hearing.
BarTV Sports uploaded the footage to Facebook to condemn the actions and educate the community.
"Generally we encourage our viewers to tag a friend for our magic moments," the post read.
"However in this instance if you feel like sharing please let your friends and followers know that this is not acceptable behavior in any sport."