A rugby player who allegedly punched a referee after being sent off has been released on bail and ordered not to leave New Zealand.

Vaea Uelese, 27, appeared in the Dunedin District Court this morning charged with the assault of Brandon Hale on July 27.

He came before a registrar and was granted bail - unopposed by police - until next month on the proviso he lived at a Balclutha address, remained in the country and did not contact the complainant.

Name suppression was not sought.


Uelese was playing for Crescent Rugby Club in a senior grade final game against Strath Taieri in Middlemarch when the alleged incident happened.

Witnesses at the match said the referee penalised Crescent after a player barged into an opponent who was picking up the ball to take a penalty.

Video footage taken from the sideline showed the official bringing out the offending player and the Crescent captain.

After briefly speaking to them, the referee showed Uelese a red card for his actions.

The player then allegedly punched the man, hitting him in the shoulder and then his head.

After a short melee, the game was then called off with Strath Taieri winning 29-24.

The Otago Rugby Union has also started its own judicial process separate from the court proceedings.