SHOCKING footage has emerged of the moment a Hunter rugby player struck a young referee in the throat during a grand final on Saturday.
Under-19s Maitland Blacks player Mark Meafua was banned from playing rugby union for 10 years at a local judiciary hearing last night and is also facing a common assault charge by police.
The vision, captured by Bar TV, shows 18-year-old Meafua thrust his right hand into the jaw and neck of 19-year-old referee Niklas Gaal, who was attempting to give Meafua a yellow card.
Gaal stumbled backwards, almost losing his feet.
The video has been viewed more than 150,000 times since it was posted to social media last night.
Police arrested Meafua at a home in Rutherford about 10pm on Saturday and he was charged with common assault. He is due to face court on October 4.
Witnesses said Meafua was only in the referee's sights because he allegedly hit a player during a "push-and-shove" moments earlier.
Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union president Andy Fairfull said Meafua deserved the decade-long sanction.
"The offence warranted it, we can't physical or verbally assault referees," Mr Fairfull said.
"That was the footage also used in the hearing, it's not a good look for the game, it's not a good incident.
"Our research indicates this hasn't happened in the Hunter for 30 years."
Fairfull said both the NHRU and Maitland club had committed to help Meafua with rehabilitation during the mammoth ban.
The coach of Meafua's team Jon Runchel said the incident was "not in the game plan!!" in a social media post.
"But Mark Meafua is one of my boys and I will stick by him even though he made a mistake that he regrets big time," Mr Runchel wrote.
Maitland Blacks president Ben Emmett said the "ugly" incident tarnished the finale of the under-19 "Colts" competition.
"We cannot, and will not, condone any behaviours that threaten or devalue the remarkable place the referees and officials play in our game," Emmett said.
"This is never more true than when physical contact with any Official is made.