The Central premier rugby team will be without prop Peter Vakaloa for the remainder of the season and well into the future.
The promising forward was banned for 26 playing weeks after a meeting of the Tasman Rugby Union judiciary on Wednesday.
His penalty came about following the Central v Moutere premier match at Lansdowne Park on Saturday.
Late in the second half Vakaloa and Moutere flanker Amco Cassidy were involved in an altercation during which punches were thrown.
Following an assistant referee’s report, the match referee showed Vakaloa a red card. Initially unwilling to walk off, Vakaloa then punched Cassidy again before being escorted from the playing field.
The judiciary also acted on a report that Vakaloa had made threatening advances towards the assistant referee as they walked from the ground.
Cassidy was shown a yellow card for his punch in retaliation to the initial punch by Vakaloa.
Vakaloa’s red card was the third he has received after being sent off in July last year and earlier this season, both times for punching offences.
The Tasman Rugby Union’s competitions and operations manager Steve Mitchell commented, “I hope this sends a clear message to all players and coaches that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated and those guilty of indiscretions will be held accountable.”