Bledisloe Cup

The Rugby Championship 2016

New Zealand’s Aaron Smith withdraws from Bledisloe Cup test against Australia after sex scandal guilty verdict

The scrum-half is convicted of serious misconduct by a New Zealand Rugby employment panel over his tryst with a woman in a public toilet

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 2:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 11:51pm

New Zealand scrum-half Aaron Smith has pulled out of the Bledisloe Cup test against Australia on Saturday after being found guilty of serious misconduct by a New Zealand Rugby employment panel.

Smith missed New Zealand’s final Rugby Championship test against South Africa a week ago because a one-match ban imposed by senior team-mates for toilet tryst with a woman in an airport toilet on September 18.

An employment hearing conducted by New Zealand Rugby (NZR) on Monday found Smith guilty of serious misconduct and issued him with a formal warning and he then decided to withdraw from the weekend test at Auckland’s Eden Park.

“In light of the impact on the reputation of All Blacks jersey and the commercial partners Aaron’s actions amounted to serious misconduct,” NZR said in a statement after the player faced a two-hour disciplinary hearing.

“He will voluntarily stand down from assembling with the All Blacks for this weekend’s Bledisloe Cup test match.”

Smith will also be issued an official warning and forfeit his “selection fees”, the statement added.

“Aaron presented himself as genuine, honest and incredibly remorseful,” NZR General Manager Rugby Neil Sorenson, who chaired the disciplinary panel, said.

“We have also taken into account the fact that the very public nature of this incident, has had a significant impact on him personally.”

World Cup winner Smith has been a regular for the All Blacks in the last three seasons and has earned 54 caps since making his debut in 2012.

The scandal, which broke earlier this month, caused a media storm in rugby-mad New Zealand, with Prime Minister John Key weighing into the controversy.