An 18-year-old Australian rugby player has been severely punished with a 10-year ban after a vicious shove to the face of a junior referee.
Maitland player Mark Meafua received the suspension from the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union after his violent reaction to being shown a red card by referee Niklas Gaal.
The 19-year-old official suffered a blow to the neck and chin in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union Under-19s Grand Final. The impact sent him staggering back and towards the ground.
Meafua trudged off furious at the decision before being met by coaches on the touchline.
The crowd could be heard booing the flanker, who lost his cool after the Newcastle Wanderers inflicted a heavy 28-3 defeat.