Coach banned for 24 weeks
A FIRST grade rugby union coach with the Ballina Seahorses has been suspended for 24 weeks, after a complaint he intimidated and verbally abused a referee.
But the coach is appealing the sentence, which was handed down by the Far North Coast Rugby Union judiciary on Thursday night.
The incident happened on Saturday, May 19, after the match between Ballina and Lismore.
Seahorses president Al Barratt, said he was "extremely disappointed" with the judiciary's decision.
He said he was considering quitting over the incident.
"This suspension is excessive," he said. "Missing 24 rounds of football will effectively take him out of the game for a year and a half.
"I have felt physically crook since the decision.
"Something like this really makes you think about whether you want to be a part of it. Quitting is something that I am considering.
"One of the problems is that a player can do a spear tackle, which could possibly break someone's neck, and they get a two to four-week suspension. Then you get this between a coach and a referee and it's 24 weeks."
Far North Coast Rugby Union president, Michael Claes, declined to comment beyond confirming there had been a judiciary hearing.
The referee could not be contacted yesterday and the coach also declined to speak on record.
Teams in the Far North Coast Rugby Union competition have since been warned that any abuse towards officials will not be tolerated.
A date has not yet been set for the the appeal.