Dylan Thorne

Dylan is the deputy editor of the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: On-field violence must stop

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What happens on the field, stays on the field.

It's an old adage that nods to the fact that physical confrontation, while not encouraged, is an accepted part of rugby and rugby league and that aggressive play can often tip over into straight-out aggression.

Some players are known - even celebrated - for possessing the necessary "mongrel" to intimidate the opposition. Think former All Black Richard Loe.

I've never had a taste for it myself. It interrupts the flow of the game, has nothing to do with the sport itself and usually involves a cheap shot delivered in broken play.

To his credit, former Bay of Plenty Steamers player Simon Chisholm elected not to stay silent about what occurred on the field the day an opposition player hit him during a premier rugby match.

The blow, which came from behind, knocked him unconscious and resulted in a brain injury.

Doctors have told him he will never play rugby again because if he takes another serious blow to the head he could die.

This week Te Puna player Uenuku Pieta, who punched Chisholm, appeared in court for the attack.

Judge Louis Bidois sentenced Pieta to 200 hours' community work on a charge of assault with intent to injure and ordered $500 reparation.

Mr Chisholm said after the sentencing that Pieta had taken the game he loved away from him and that he had been a coward to hit him from behind.

Mr Chisholm also struggled with a view that such acts of violence were acceptable on the football field.

"That fella's taken rugby away from me. I get headaches every day because of him," he said.

"There are people out there that think doing this kind of thing is acceptable."

I congratulate Mr Chisholm for speaking up and addressing a major issue facing the sport.

Pieta was banned from playing rugby for 12 months after an independent Bay of Plenty Rugby Union judicial process - a paltry penalty given the damage the blow inflicted.

As this paper has noted before, anyone who assaults another player on the field should be banned for life. No second chances.

It's time rugby administrators took a harder line with on-field violence to limit the risk of someone else enduring the ordeal Mr Chisholm has been through.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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