Vunibaka gets12-match ban
January 9, 2002

New Zealand breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday that their Sevens team was not punished more severely by the International Rugby Board (IRB) following a savage brawl in Chile.

New Zealand had just beaten Fiji 19-17 in the IRB semifinals at the weekend when Fijian winger Marika Vunibaka ran 50 yards and launched an attack on All Black Amasio Valence, sparking a free-for-all that had to be broken up by armed Chilean police.

An IRB judicial hearing, headed by Chilean lawyer Mario Torres Skarpa, has banned Vunibaka from all play for the next 12 weeks frojm immediate effect, the maximum punishment available. It knocks him out of the World Sevens competition and the Super 12 until March 31.

New Zealand were also cautioned and "severely reprimanded".

Fiji, who were censured for fighting with Samoa earlier in the tournament, will lose the 12 competition points gained at Santiago if they commit a similar offence during the remainder of the series.

The teams are now in Argentina preparing for the third leg of the tournament in Mar del Plata this weekend.

The New Zealand Rugby Football Union was relieved at the outcome, with chief executive David Rutherford reiterating the team had been told by the union and management their conduct was unacceptable. "Everyone understands how bad the incident was," he said.

Rutherford admitted Chris Masoe, who stomped on a Fijian player, was lucky not to be cited, but added the NZRFU could not take any action against the player because he was not brought before the judiciary.

New Zealand, the reigning title holders, lead the standings with 40 points ahead of Samoa and South Africa, who are tied for second on 24. Fiji were fifth equal with England on 18. New Zealand have won the first two rounds.

Canterbury Rugby Football Union chief executive Hamish Riach said Vunibaka's unavailability for the Super 12 Crusaders was "not particularly helpful" considering the Crusaders were still seeking an outside back to add to their squad.

The Crusaders would not be seeking cover, with the existing players capable of filling the void.

Following the events in Chile, the IRB has issued a directive to all
Unions, teams and players participating in the Series, that conduct
prejudicial to the best interests of the game will not be tolerated.

The Board will also discuss these and other aspects of the tournament
with the Unions of those players and teams involved in incidents of foul play and violent conduct. The objective will be to agree long-term solutions to ensure that such conduct is not repeated. This exercise will include a review of the independent judicial process currently in place for the World Sevens Series and will consider the possible introduction of specific new powers and guidelines relating to such incidents.

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Football

  • Cricket

  • Rugby

    • Days
    • Hrs
    • Mins
    • Secs

    F1 - Azerbaijan GP

  • OtherLive >>

    Darts - Premier League
    Golf - Houston Open
    Snooker - China Open
    Tennis - Miami Open