Assault: Another black mark for NZ
Assault: Another black mark for NZSHARE
New Zealand rugby was dealt another black eye with the news this week that two Southland players appeared in court for off-field indiscretions.
According to a report in the Southland Times the Southland Rugby Union has initiated misconduct proceedings after Stags player Junior Ngaluafe was charged with 'male assaults female' and 'willful damage' – following an incident on April 28.
Earlier in the week Southland Stags squad member Tuki Raimona apologized to his teammates and Southland staff for his careless actions and poor judgment – which led to him being convicted of a driving offence in the Invercargill District Court last Friday.
These two incidents follow the high-profile cases involving All Blacks wing Julian Savea and Blues midfielder Francis Saili – who had both been left out of their Super Rugby franchise teams for off-field indiscretions.
Savea appeared in court and was remanded on bail when charged with assaulting his girlfriend.
Saili was charged over a driving offence.
Rugby Southland General Manager Brian Hopley, in a statement on Friday, said: "We were very disappointed to learn of this incident and the subsequent charges that Junior [Ngaluafe] now faces, as we set high standards for our players and staff regarding acceptable behaviour.
"As our players know, any behaviour that brings the union or the game into disrepute will result in misconduct proceedings, but we must also respect Junior's right to a fair hearing in court. Consequently we will await the conclusion of the court process before beginning any formal hearing on this matter.
"Rugby Southland is working with New Zealand Rugby and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association to ensure the correct process is followed and Junior receives the guidance he needs during this challenging period.
"As this matter is before the court Rugby Southland will not comment further at this time."
Meanwhile Raimona acknowledged that he failed to keep to the high standards set by Rugby Southland for behaviour.
"I was stupid and failed to take the full consequences of my behaviour into account," he said in a statement, adding: "I take full responsibility for my actions and will do my best to make it up to my teammates, Rugby Southland and my supporters over the coming weeks and months"
Raimona was pulled over on February 10 and charged with driving while under the influence of a prescription drug Triazolam. He was disqualified from driving for eight months and fined NZ$300.
Rugby Southland has been working with the New Zealand Rugby Players Association and the NZRU to provide support and advice to Raimona, any further disciplinary action will be dependent on a full review of the incident.