WELLINGTON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Waikato prop Ben Tameifuna has been suspended from rugby for five weeks for pushing referee Glen Jackson to the ground during a provincial championship match in New Zealand last week.
The 140-kg tighthead, who was called up to the All Blacks training squad last year, was cited for 'acting against the spirit of good sportsmanship' when he shoved Jackson out of the way while defending on the try-line.
Tameifuna apologised to the referee immediately after the game and accepted his actions had been "inexcusable" but maintained he had been focused on defending the line and had acted instinctively and not maliciously in pushing Jackson.
Taking the mitigating circumstances into account, the judicial officer Chris Morris decided to suspend Tameifuna from all rugby until Oct. 5.
"It is imperative that players instinctively know that it is never, under any circumstances, appropriate for a player to abuse, verbally or physically, a match official," Morris said in a statement.
"Taking all those factors into account, I find that a suspension of five weeks is appropriate and proportionate to the offending."
Newcastle Falcons prop Kieran Brookes was banned for six weeks for pushing referee Greg Garner during an English Premiership match against Leicester in March. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; editing by Ian Ransom)