Marc Ellis has held on to his television job for now but lost his place around the boardroom table after admitting he bought five Ecstasy pills for personal use.
The television celebrity and former All Black was convicted in the Auckland District Court yesterday of possessing the class-B drug.
He was fined $300 and ordered to pay court costs of $130.
He later offered his resignation to the board of juice company Charlie's, and it was accepted. Ellis was a co-founder and director of Charlie's and played a key role in the company's marketing.
But it is as a television host that he is better known these days, with regular appearances on Touchdown-produced shows on TVNZ. The broadcaster said yesterday that it would continue screening Game of Two Halves and Matthew and Marc's Rocky Road To South America.
However, the drug conviction would be a factor in decisions about future shows.
It was a long day for the normally jovial Ellis, beginning with a visit to the Auckland Central police station at 9.45am to be charged by drug squad detectives and then "processed" - photographed and fingerprinted for the national crime database.
Two hours later, the officers escorted Ellis to court in an unmarked police car and walked him through a back entrance to wait in custody for his afternoon appearance.
Ellis walked into the dock just after 3pm, stood with his head up and confirmed the worst-kept secret in the country: that he had been caught up in a so-called white-collar drug ring busted by police last month.
Former league player Brent Todd was this month identified as the other celebrity. He is named in court documents as a joint offender in supplying cocaine and cannabis but has not been charged with any offence.
In court yesterday, lawyer Robert Fardell, QC, said Ellis, who still holds the record for the most tries by an All Black in a test (six against Japan in the 1995 World Cup), did not seek name suppression and accepted responsibility for his actions.
Crown prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch said Ellis and an associate, who was not identified, went to the apartment of another man, who is currently facing charges, on June 25 to buy Ecstasy.
The man explained to Ellis and his friend that he had tablets that were "beautiful" and asked, "Do you want 10?"
Ellis spoke to his friend and they agreed they wanted 10 pills.
The man said he would sell them for $60 each and payment was made.
Ellis told police he had bought five tablets for his personal use.
Judge Bernard Kendall said it was Ellis' first criminal offence, although he had appeared in court on a traffic matter.
The maximum penalty for the charge was three months' prison and/or a $500 fine, said the judge.
"Having regard to the nature of the offence, the appropriate penalty in this case is a monetary one. It seems to me that the proper penalty has to take into account the cost per tablet, and if there are five ... the appropriate fine is $300 and $130 court costs."
Outside court, a serious Ellis said he had made a bad error of judgment.
"I'd like to apologise to my parents, my family and friends and supporters. I made an err [sic] of judgment on an evening for which I'm paying the price and I'm genuinely sorry."
Ellis refused to answer further questions and walked quickly to his father Chris' late-model Jaguar car, which whisked him away.
While Ellis was not talking, his friend and boss, Sportscafe producer Ric Salizzo, went into bat for him, saying he had made a mistake and paid the price.
Salizzo said he was disappointed in Ellis but people had to forgive mistakes.
"Marc's Marc and he's made a mistake. I give him a lot of credit for the way he's handled himself. He's taken it on the chin and dealt with it. That doesn't explain away what he's done but it's an indication of the sort of person he is."
Salizzo said Ellis had never indicated to him that he used drugs.
"It came as a surprise."
Ellis would be back with Sportscafe when it returned to air next Wednesday "unless I'm told differently", said Salizzo.
A statement from TVNZ said Ellis was "one person among many" on the shows which currently screened and it would be "inappropriate" to cancel an entire programme.
"Decisions about future shows will be made when it's appropriate, and [yesterday's] events will be one of a number of factors that will need to be taken into consideration."
The Drug Foundation said the conviction was a warning to all people about the consequences of taking drugs.
Executive director Ross Bell said the ramifications on Ellis' career, business and travel prospects were far greater than the $300 fine.
"The amount of publicity and the stigma involved with this conviction might mean that Mr Ellis may face difficulties with his broadcasting career because sponsors could think twice about advertising with programmes he is involved with."
Ellis has made a a career out of being a bit of a lad and has had a colourful career that took him from rugby star to league convert, television personality and businessman.
Named one of New Zealand's most sexy men in 2002, his antics on the long-running Sportscafe riled officialdom on more than one occasion.
He was a driving figure in promoting National Nude Day, in which people were encouraged to send the show videos of their naked pranks.
Police in 2003 sought legal advice on whether they could prosecute him for offering a monetary reward to anyone who streaked at provincial rugby matches.
An increase in streaking at rugby matches was blamed on a dare Ellis, 33, made on Sportscafe.
He had offered a $1000 reward for each security guard a streaker managed to evade before being captured.
He later increased the offer to $2000 for females.
* A man caught up in the "celebrity drugs ring" has been fined $250 after admitting attempting to procure cocaine.
Phillip James Clark, 31, the manager of the upmarket Euro bar on Auckland's waterfront, was also ordered to pay $130 court costs by Judge Kendall in the Auckland District Court yesterday.
A more serious charge of conspiracy to supply was withdrawn.
The judge took into account that Clark was a first offender.