WEAPON?: A Northern United player received a 15-year suspension tonight for
WEAPON?: A Northern United player received a 15-year suspension tonight for "attacking an official with a weapon". The weapon? An orange witch's hat, similar to those shown above. © iStockphoto.com/Sven Klaschik

Footballer gets 15-year ban for witch's hat attack

A NORTHERN Rivers Regional Rugby League judiciary hearing should alleviate any concerns surrounding their commitment to stamping out unruly behaviour.

The NRRRL met on Tuesday night to hear the case of a Northern United player who allegedly attacked a match official with a witch's hat after a reserve grade game against Byron Bay Red Devils on July 14.

The 29-year-old, whose name was not released by the NRRRL, pleaded guilty to the charge of "attacking a match official with a weapon", and was subsequently suspended for 15 years.

NRRRL president Brian Rix said it was the biggest suspension his administration had enforced.

"Years before I was involved another player apparently received a life ban but this is the longest one in my history," Rix said.

"We discussed the incident for a considerable amount of time. The bottom line is we don't that sort of behaviour in our competition."

With no video evidence available the panel depended on several witness statements and reports, some of which were supplied by Northern United.

Rix praised the club for their proactive approach to ensuring the incident was documented.

He also praised the player for fronting up to the judiciary and admitting what he had done.

"He showed a lot of character to front up and admit his mistake," Rix said.

"It was a spur of the moment thing and he said if he had his time over he'd delete that 30 seconds but accepted responsibility for his actions."

Short of kicking him completely out of the game, the NRRRL added an incentive to ensure the player could still remain involved in future.

"If he becomes involved in an administrative or coaching role or as a ground manager, he can use that as evidence to show he maintained involvement with the sport and can come back in future to get the charge downgraded," Rix said.

"It was rightly accepted by both the player and the club.

"He was very optimistic about remaining involved so hopefully he goes through with that."

Fellow Northern United player Andrew Walker was also set to face the judiciary but did not appear.

The former dual international is suspended until he fronts the judiciary for a dissent charge from Northern United's 36-10 loss to Ballina Seagulls earlier this year.

More on rugby league's crackdown on poor behaviour in tomorrow's The Daily Examiner.


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