Assaulted Manawatu rugby ref: Player's life ban 'huge'

Assaulted Manawatu rugby ref: Player's life ban 'huge'

Despite the cold, wet and muddy conditions, Paul Van Deventer is in his element on the field being referee for Manawatu club rugby.

It's something he loves and does without pay and the fact he's back blowing the whistle is a big deal.

Mr Van Deventer was punched and knocked out by a player he was officiating in early July.

"I remember being punched because it stunned me and then I was knocked out because I woke up with the medics around me."

The man who assaulted him said he had been upset about some of the calls and the result of the game.

As a consequence, he has been banned from rugby for life. He's pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in September.

"There are consequences obviously for him. He's not allowed to play rugby anymore which I think is big. I remember from my rugby playing days the social side that goes with it - it's huge."

The assault happened in the same week as an awareness campaign which intended to draw attention to sideline abuse of players and officials.

Mr Van Deventer believes it isn't a problem in New Zealand but the one-off incidents are such a big deal, it does affect the community.

He understands there will always be someone happy with the game and someone who is not, but that's the nature of the game.

"People need to remember it's not a professional industry for us. They need to give us understanding or respect back that I feel I give to players, spectators and coaches."

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