Rugby: Wellington player left with life-altering injuries after 'disgraceful' club rugby assault

Lengthy sanctions have been dished out to Marist St Pats Rugby Football Club, after three players attacked a Petone opponent in a game in November. 

Ridge Studd was left with severe facial injuries and unable to work, after a "disgraceful" attack from Marist trio Iosefo Aukusitino, Sagele Aukusitino and Jeremiah Tuiatua.

The three players have been banned from club rugby for varying lengths of time, while Marists St Pats will be excluded from the Ambassador's Sevens Tournament for the next three seasons. 

Wellington lawyer Gerard Dewar was left disgusted by the incident and was highly critical of the response from Marist St Pats. 

"We are not satisfied that MSP team members have been adequately held to account within their club or that their club has properly dealt with those participating in this disgraceful event," he has written in a Wellington Rugby disciplinary report. 

Referee Colin Te Pohe​ described the incident as "pure thuggery", while his assistant told the hearing he was thinking of quitting the sport after the brawl, which spectators also joined.

Iosefo Aukusitino copped a two-year suspension from all rugby, brother Sagele drew a one-year ban, while Tuiatua has been suspended for five matches after a shoulder charge. 

Patrick Aukusitino, the players’ brother, was watching the game from the sidelines and has been banned from attending any WRFU match for two years.

Studd was suspended for three games for striking and retaliation. 

Wellington rugby journalist Adam Julian was left shaken by what he saw, writing in a social media post that Studd was lucky to be alive. 

"Ridge Studd was attacked so viciously, he suffered a seizure, after being knocked out cold," Julian wrote. "It didn’t stop there.

"Apparently, he needed a booting too. Ridge could have died, thankfully he didn’t. 

“The following day, his face looked like he’d gone rounds with Mike Tyson. Multiple broken bones and a busted eye socket that couldn’t be repaired, until the swelling dissipated about a fortnight later.

"The surgery itself was a complex, lengthy affair that essentially required the whole head to be opened, so the sensitive areas of injury could be mended.

"The simple act of turning the head caused headaches. Chewing solids was stressful. 

“No work, no gym, no TV, no parties for a long time. The guy was crushed, recovery remains an arduous and tedious process."

Julian added when contacted by Newshub: "This type of violence has no place in rugby. 

"Many people involved in the game for longer, and at much higher levels of importance and accomplishment, than me have said this is the worst thing they have ever seen.

"The most galling thing about it all is the attitude of Marist St Pats.

"This is one of the most reputable rugby clubs in New Zealand with a dozen All Blacks, 14 Jubilee Cup wins and many, many fine people involved.

"The minutes of the judiciary hearing unfortunately show their conduct to be  evasive and lacking in empathy for the victim."

Petone club captain Mike Woollett​ told Stuff he felt the sanctions were too lenient, although Marist St Pats chairman Rob Evans said the club was reviewing the findings of the hearing to decide if it would appeal.

The three Marist St Pats players are said to be "very upset" about what happened.