There was a danger for Aaron Smith that he would be handed a punishment that didn't fit his crime. That he would be fitted up as the fall guy for a string of other offenders who did much worse but escaped proper sanction.

Smith can feel some sense of relief that it didn't happen - that he has been treated fairly and reasonably. His toilet tryst in Christchurch last month didn't reflect well on him or the All Blacks and no doubt embarrassed sponsors whose investment is staked on the purity and excellence of the brand.

But Smith was guilty of gross disrespect to one woman - not all women. His actions were unsavoury and lacking in class but they weren't illegal. Some kind of perspective had to be retained and a punishment of a formal warning and another week out of the All Blacks is evidence that it has been.

And perspective may not have been easy to retain for New Zealand Rugby who conducted Smith's misconduct review.


It has been a horrible few months for rugby in general, but the national body in particular.

They failed catastrophically in first determining what the Chiefs did in their post-season celebrations and then punishing them in a manner that felt fair and consistent.

They didn't do any better a job in the case of Losi Fillipo - effectively absolving themselves of any responsibility and initially allowing the youngster to resume his professional career without sanction.

The public reaction to the NZRU's disciplinary assessments has been intense. They have been accused of being lenient and guilty of condoning abusive behaviour by doing so little to punish it.

They have had their failings pointed out by just about everyone, but most tellingly by some of the most influential women in the country.

Smith had the potential to be cast in the unfortunate position as the fall guy for others: to be punished out of proportion for his sins as some kind of too little, too late attempt by the NZRU to make a big statement about how they view actions that fall well outside expectation.

Common sense has prevailed and Smith has been given a chance to move on with no bitterness or sense of injustice about his fate.