Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has been given a suspended six month ban from the game after being found guilty of abusing a cameraman.
The Super Rugby coach pleaded guilty to misconduct at a SANZAR hearing on Tuesday night.
SANZAR judicial officer Nigel Hampton QC found that Cheika breached section 8.3 of the governing body’s code when he repeatedly told a South African cameraman to “f*** off” during his side’s match with the Sharks in Durban in March.
Cheika was banned from all involvement in the game for six months, however the punishment was suspended until August 31 next year. The ban would be triggered if Cheika was found guilty of another breach of the code of conduct in that time.
He was also ordered to write a letter of apology to the cameraman and pay SANZAR’s costs of $6000.
Mr Hampton took into account Cheika’s contrition, but said deterrents were necessary to protects match officials and persons charged with running the game.
He said Cheika was also guilty of inappropriately claiming that witnesses had fabricated evidence.
“Shortly after half time during the Sharks v Waratahs match on 29 March, Mr Cheika, unfortunately and unprofessionally, vented his frustration on a match-day cameraman who was merely fulfilling his expected role for his employer and, ultimately, for SANZAR,” Mr Hampton said in his ruling.
“On reviewing all of the evidence, I found that on at least two occasions, Mr Cheika told the cameraman to ‘f*** off’ in a heated way, with accompanied finger pointing and on at least one other occasion, but in the same heated way, the coach used the word ‘f***ing’ in talking to the cameraman, either in reference to that person or his equipment, although, on the state of the evidence, I did not find proven that this was a threat, whether to person or to property.
“In his original account submitted on 8 April, Mr Cheika admitted to ‘stern’ language on one occasion, but deliberately omitted the specific language he used and I find his claim, in evidence, to have used ‘f*** off’ only once unconvincing.”
Cheika has 48 hours to appeal the finding.