Former Hawke’s Bay prop Whetu Barber has been banned from playing rugby for life after punching a referee in the head during a club game.


Barber was playing for Otorohanga against Morrinsville last week when he was sin-binned for elbowing an opponent and was then red carded for comments made to the referee. He started to leave the field before returning and punching the official.

Barber was immediately banned for life by Otorohanga and that was followed by a similar punishment from the Waikato Rugby Union. “A life ban is not taken lightly, but his history was taken in to consideration,” said a board official. “He had a relatively poor history in the short time he has had with us.”


The referee was able to continue after the attack but subsequently required medical treatment. “He is concussed and is getting medical treatment, as well as physiotherapy on his neck because of the punch,” the board spokesman said. “He won’t be able to referee this weekend because of his concussion.

“I’m struggling to find any reason why a player would punch a referee, there is no excuse for it and we are certainly supporting the referee completely.”

Original story on ESPN Scrum.