A club player in New Zealand has been banned for 78 weeks for brutally stamping on the head of an opponent. Niko Brooking-Hodgson was left unconscious and convulsing on the ground from the incident. His left ear was nearly ripped off and he required 70 stitches to the wound.
Sione Tamale, who plays for High School Old Boys, was red carded for the assault but there have been calls for him to be charged by the police.
Although league rules only allow for a one-year ban, the judiciary panel invoked special regulations which relate to the seriousness of the injuries suffered.
Tamale claimed he was guilty of "reckless rucking, not stomping". His club captain, Matt Mead, said: "A ruck had formed and the Pirates player was face down on the ground and unconscious and I alerted the referee to that, but then saw a HSOB boot not kick or stomp, but rake across the Pirates player's face.
"I looked up and it was Sione and I said 'what was that bro', then said to the ref he [Tamale] has to go. But I did not see a downward stomping action. He looked to be trying to rake the player or ball."
Royce Maynard, the referee, recalled the incident differently. "I saw Sione stomp once on the head of the defenceless Pirates player ... I see it every night I go to sleep. The ball was nowhere in the vicinity of the player on the ground.
"I saw him stomp. Rucking is a goalpost-to-goalpost movement. This was an up-and-down motion with force".
High School Old Boys manager Brendon Hart said the club would stand by their player. "We don't condone violence in any form especially contact with the head, including reckless rucking, and you can see that from the reaction of Matt at the time when he told the ref Sione had to go. But what sort of a family [club] would we be if we just dropped someone. We will continue to work with Sione."