Opinion: The exclusive club of rugby privilege stinks

Losi Filipo playing for Wellington (Getty)
Losi Filipo playing for Wellington (Getty)

Judge Bruce Davidson should be stood down over his decision to let Losi Filipo off a brutal assault.

Apparently it breaks protocol to criticise a judge's decision. So let's break protocol then, because in this case Davidson needs to be red-carded from the bench and his job reviewed.

Filipo brutally assaulted four people, including two women. 

There should and must be consequences for this young thug, and justice must be done. It hasn't because Filipo is in what I call the elite club of rugby privilege.

Davidson let Filipo off because he should be able to fulfil his potential.

Davidson said: "I have to ask myself, are the courts in the business of destroying people's career prospects?' 

That's a shocker. That says rugby privilege sits above justice and consequence. That says to me that rugby is above the law.

And that's bloody disgraceful.

The courts have been entirely inconsistent on rugby thugs and high profile law-breakers.

All Black George Moala was found guilty of assault in 2012 in a late-night boozy brawl but walked away, discharged without conviction. The judge said a conviction could affect his playing career.

Same with former All Black Francis Saili, who walked away without conviction for driving while disqualified. The judge said a conviction would affect his career.

But other players are held to account.

Seventeen-year-old Jackson Phillip Lynskey-Reid was seen as an emerging young talent when he got into a fight at a party on September 12, 2015.

He was charged with wounding with intent to injure. He hit the victim over the head with a bottle.

The judge considered it serious offending. It was his first offence. He was convicted and did five months' community detention and ordered to pay $10,000 in reparations.

It was argued a conviction would affect his rugby career - that was dismissed by the judge.

Young Hamish McCaw was seen as a promising young player when he was charged with a serious assault in 2012.

He was convicted and did nine months' supervision and paid $800 in reparations.

The judge described the assault as unprovoked and serious. He was also seen as a promising young rugby player - that was dismissed by the judge.

In my opinion the courts have been totally inconsistent. Some top players get a free pass, while others are not so lucky. 

It stinks and it looks rotten. And the rugby union, rugby bosses and community leaders should be speaking out about this rather than writing references in their defence.

Filipo should have been held to account for his brutal bashing. That he wasn't rests with the court and Judge Davidson, who in this case got it 100 percent wrong. It's shameful.