A Wellington and former Hurricanes rugby player has apologised after being disciplined by New Zealand Rugby for taking an illicit substance after a club game.

James O'Reilly, who has played 12 times at hooker for the Hurricanes, was found guilty of serious misconduct after he admitted using the substance in late May at a Hutt Old Boys Marist event.

O'Reilly was one of two club players said to be snorting a substance off the century-old Swindale​ Shield. The Wellington and New Zealand unions were made aware of the alleged incident due to a video being circulated on social media. The video did not show the players snorting the substance, but did show powder on the shield, a source confirmed to the Herald.

O'Reilly told the Herald he was "truly sorry" for taking the substance.


"I have made a mistake and it is one that I intend to learn from. I am truly sorry for the embarrassment and damage that I have caused to my club, Wellington Rugby and the wider rugby community," O'Reilly said.

"I completely accept New Zealand Rugby's disciplinary process and am committed to undertaking the necessary steps in order to make amends."

Wellington Rugby earlier confirmed that the case had been handed to police.

"The player admitted his actions in a misconduct meeting," the Wellington union said in a statement. "The player was remorseful and volunteered to undertake counselling and volunteer time at his club. He was warned and was suspended for two weeks from all rugby including games and training meaning he is only available after Monday 10 June. He will miss one club game and one pre-season game for Wellington."

The union said the player had now also been placed in the targeted pool of the illicit drug testing programme.

Wellington Rugby Union chief executive Matt Evans said they were also talking to Hutt Old Boys Marist about the actions of club players also in the video.

"There is no place for illicit substances in rugby. We are incredibly disappointed this has happened. With regard to this player we have accepted his remorse, he has now put his career in jeopardy but he is a young man who we believe is entitled to make amends."

Hutt Old Boys Marist chairman Phil Saxton said the players actions were unacceptable and in a clear breach of its code of conduct.

"The club has taken the opportunity to initiate a significant education exercise around alcohol and illicit substances for all players, not just the ones involved in this incident. The players in the video are also taking an active lead in the process and working hard to provide reparation on a meaningful level."