A Brighton rugby club player has been banned for 18 weeks after he pushed a referee in a lower grade club game.
The incident, which happened on April 13, led to the player being sent from the field.
The match was a senior grade contest between Brighton and Strath Taieri in Middlemarch.
Otago Rugby Referees Association chairman Chris Hart confirmed a hearing was held this week about the incident but he could not comment as the written decision had not yet been released.
The club had seven days to submit an appeal but that appears unlikely.
It was believed the player was penalised for inappropriate play at ruck and then pushed the referee shortly after the penalty was awarded.
He was sent from the field and left Brighton with 14 players for the rest of the game. The referee was not injured.
The judicial hearing took place last Wednesday and the player was believed to be banned for 24 weeks, reduced to 18 weeks on a good behaviour bond.
The bond would allow the player to play next season, should he do some work around the club and do some community work.
The referee had to be respected in rugby and to push him was frowned upon by officials and all sectors of the game.
The law book of rugby states the lower-end punishment for the physical abuse of officials starts at 24 weeks with a maximum penalty of a life ban.
Georgian flanker Vito Kolelishvili was banned for 14 weeks in 2016 after he admitted shoving top English referee Wayne Barnes in a European club match.
Waikato prop Ben Tameifuna was suspended for five weeks after pushing referee Glen Jackson during Waikato's win over North Harbour in 2014.
Brighton Rugby Football Club past president Peter Street said the club was disappointed with the incident, as were the players.
He said the player had to take the punishment and the club was unlikely to appeal the decision.