Editorial: Judge made right call on Tameifuna

By Andrew Austin


Magpies and Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna did not look very happy when he appeared in Hastings District Court yesterday, but the signs are there that he will be able to get over this hurdle.

Tameifuna is undoubtedly a talented rugby player and has the ability to become a very good All Black. It is unfortunate a loss of form and a fairly minor traffic violation have happened at the same time and landed him in a spot of bother.

Tameifuna, 21, pleaded guilty to two charges of driving while disqualified and was sentenced to 50 hours' community work and disqualified from driving for nine months.

The NZRU confirmed yesterday they had set up "misconduct proceedings" and would look to meet with Tameifuna over the next few weeks.

Unfortunately, history is full of promising sportsmen who have not been able to cope with fame and fortune. Some of them crash out and never reach the heights they could, while others learn from their mistakes and become stronger because of them.

All indications are that Tameifuna could fall into the second category.

Certainly his employers, the Chiefs Super Rugby franchise, seem to be doing everything in their power to ensure he has the necessary support to get through this problem.

Tameifuna was supported in court by his mother and Chiefs assistant coach Tom Coventry, who had also written a letter to Judge Richard Watson outlining an "eight-point plan" to help Tameifuna.

Coventry seems like the right person to help Tameifuna - he has known the burly prop since he was a fifth-former at Hastings Boys' High School and hosted Tameifuna at his Hamilton home during this year's Super campaign. The plan includes placing him in a stable flat close to training, access to a full-time trainer, medical staff, and a personal development manager to help him with his community work. He would also receive peer mentoring from senior players.

The judge acknowledged the plan and as a result gave him community service. There will be some people who will say that Tameifuna got off lightly, but they would be wrong.

His crime is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. He was not driving recklessly or drunk and any harsher punishment would have been detrimental to his future.

This may just be the thing that puts him back on the path to greatness.

And if he barges over from five metres to score the winning try for the All Blacks in the next Rugby World Cup final, we can thank the Chiefs and the judge for making the right decision.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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