Johannesburg - The SA Rugby Union (SARU) on Wednesday commended the Leopards Rugby Union (LRU) for handing out a life ban to a club coach for assaulting a referee.
Vaal Reefs Rugby Club second team coach Hennie van den Heever was suspended for life from all forms of rugby by the LRU following a disciplinary hearing where he was found guilty of transgressing regulation 20.4 (b) of the International Rugby Board.
Van den Heever assaulted referee Godwil Marobe at a league match between Vaal Reefs and Klerksdorp Askari Rugby Club on March 22 at Oppenheimer Stadium in Orkney.
Vaal Reefs was also fined R5 000 because Van den Heever's BokSmart (SARU's national rugby safety programme) accreditation was outdated.
Both the coach and the club have the right to appeal these decisions.
"We have been calling for a tough approach to referee abuse and this incident at the Leopards, and the way in which the union dealt with the matter, underlines our message," SARU CEO Jurie Roux said.
"Two years ago our president, Oregan Hoskins, wrote to all 14 provincial unions and reiterated that players and coaches found guilty of assaulting referees should expect to be banned from the game for life.
"We urged the unions' disciplinary committees to take the strongest possible action against any individuals under their jurisdiction who physically or verbally abused match officials.
Roux said he was pleased the Leopards took a tough stance on the matter.
"Although attacks on match officials, either physically or verbally, are rare, we need to stamp it out completely."