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Sanele Aukusitino

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Sanele Aukusitino (also known as Sagele) is a rugby union convert who played second five/wing for St Patricks Silverstream College 1st XV.

In 2020 Aukusitino joined the Canberra Raiders on a two week train and trial contract during their preseason training. He returned to NZ and played for Wellington rugby team Marist St Pats. In November Aukusitino was involved in a brawl while playing for Marist that eventually saw him banned from all rugby union for a year.

Aukusitino joined the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles on a train and trial contract in 2022 and played for their Jersey Flegg team.

In 2023, Aukusitino joined the Warriors on a train and trial contract during the club's preseason. On 9 February 2023, Aukusitino was named in the Warriors first trial game against the Wests Tigers at Mt Smart, Auckland...
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Wellington player left with life-altering injuries after 'disgraceful' club rugby assault

Brad Lewis

Lengthy sanctions have been dished out to Marist St Pats Rugby Football Club, after three players attacked a Petone opponent in a game in November.

Ridge Studd was left with severe facial injuries and unable to work, after a "disgraceful" attack from Marist trio Iosefo Aukusitino, Sagele Aukusitino and Jeremiah Tuiatua.

The three players have been banned from club rugby for varying lengths of time, while Marists St Pats will be excluded from the Ambassador's Sevens Tournament for the next three seasons.

Wellington lawyer Gerard Dewar was left disgusted by the incident and was highly critical of the response from Marist St Pats.

"We are not satisfied that MSP team members have been adequately held to account within their club or that their club has properly dealt with those participating in this disgraceful event," he has written in a Wellington Rugby disciplinary report.

Referee Colin Te Pohe described the incident as "pure thuggery", while his assistant told the hearing he was thinking of quitting the sport after the brawl, which spectators also joined.

Iosefo Aukusitino copped a two-year suspension from all rugby, brother Sagele drew a one-year ban, while Tuiatua has been suspended for five matches after a shoulder charge.

Patrick Aukusitino, the players’ brother, was watching the game from the sidelines and has been banned from attending any WRFU match for two years.

Studd was suspended for three games for striking and retaliation.

Wellington rugby journalist Adam Julian was left shaken by what he saw, writing in a social media post that Studd was lucky to be alive.

"Ridge Studd was attacked so viciously, he suffered a seizure, after being knocked out cold," Julian wrote. "It didn’t stop there.

"Apparently, he needed a booting too. Ridge could have died, thankfully he didn’t.

“The following day, his face looked like he’d gone rounds with Mike Tyson. Multiple broken bones and a busted eye socket that couldn’t be repaired, until the swelling dissipated about a fortnight later.

"The surgery itself was a complex, lengthy affair that essentially required the whole head to be opened, so the sensitive areas of injury could be mended.

"The simple act of turning the head caused headaches. Chewing solids was stressful.

“No work, no gym, no TV, no parties for a long time. The guy was crushed, recovery remains an arduous and tedious process."

Julian added when contacted by Newshub: "This type of violence has no place in rugby.

"Many people involved in the game for longer, and at much higher levels of importance and accomplishment, than me have said this is the worst thing they have ever seen.

"The most galling thing about it all is the attitude of Marist St Pats.

"This is one of the most reputable rugby clubs in New Zealand with a dozen All Blacks, 14 Jubilee Cup wins and many, many fine people involved.

"The minutes of the judiciary hearing unfortunately show their conduct to be evasive and lacking in empathy for the victim."

Petone club captain Mike Woollett told Stuff he felt the sanctions were too lenient, although Marist St Pats chairman Rob Evans said the club was reviewing the findings of the hearing to decide if it would appeal.

The three Marist St Pats players are said to be "very upset" about what happened.

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Victims forgive rugby sevens player charged over Wellington on-field brawl

Hazel Osborne​

13 May, 2022 02:18 PM
The brawl broke out a match played at Upper Hutt's Maidstone Park. Photo /

The brawl broke out a match played at Upper Hutt's Maidstone Park. Photo /

Sevens player Ridge Studd was in the midst of an on-field brawl with a rival player when he was punched in the face and knocked to the ground with a serious injury.

Fast-forward two years on and Studd has not only forgiven that rival, 23-year-old Iosefo Aukusitino, but he's asked for a judge to not hold it against the young father-to-be.

"I forgave you months ago, I hold no hate, no anger, it was all unlucky," his statement read aloud in the Wellington District Court today said.

Judge Mike Mika responded by discharging the Marist St Pats player without conviction.

The two players were in the second half of a Wellington Rugby Football Union-hosted Seven's series match at Upper Hutt's Maidstone Park on the morning of November 14 in 2020 when the fight broke out.

Aukusitino and Studd, a member of the Petone Rugby Club, were both throwing punches when one from Aukusitino landed, connecting with Studd's right eye.

In court today, Studd's family showed compassion in asking that Aukusitino face no legal repercussions following a successful and healing restorative justice session that took place in March.

"No conviction, no fines, no reparation, go and be a good father," Studd's dad told Aukusitino, who is expecting his first child this year.

Judge Mika acknowledged the impact the restorative justice process had had for both families.

"I found the report to be one of a very positive, genuine and healing conference for not only you and your aiga [family] that are present but for the victim and his whānau."

Aukusitino pleaded guilty to one charge of wounding with reckless disregard in December and has since done significant work in his community, on his anger management, and towards healing his relationship with the victim and their family.

Crown prosecutor Grant Burston said the Crown was in the hands of the court when it came to today's outcome.

"The Crown notes the wishes of the victim and his family that through the restorative justice process that no conviction should be entered in this case," Burston said.

Burston did reiterate, however, that sports clubs must understand punching someone on a sports field where it causes injury is serious criminal offending.

Aukusitino's lawyer Tim Castle said both rugby clubs have since united to pledge commitment against violence on, and off, the rugby field.

"They have come together as leaders of a rugby club to commit to the way in which they guide young men and women playing the game," Castle said.

Judge Mika said the fact leaders and members of Aukusitino's club had been present throughout the court process, despite his two-year ban, was a testament to their support, and his character.

"That is a credit to you Mr Aukusitino," Judge Mika said.

Castle said the offending and court process had caused a deep shame to Aukusitino and his family, who had suffered personal tragedy since that day.

"The shadow of this case has hovered above him in circumstances that have been deeply distressing," Castle said.

In sentencing, Judge Mika also acknowledged this.

"You are embarrassed and ashamed that your family have been targeted with negative comments as a result of your offending."

Judge Mika outlined the extent to which Aukusitino had given back to his community, giving 30 hours to a local playcentre and 20 hours to the rugby clubrooms in maintenance work.

One statement from a playcentre employee said the work Aukusitino had done made their centre safer and more welcoming for tamariki and whānau.

"Everything that could be asked of this young man, and those who support him, has been done," Castle said.

Judge Mika spoke of Aukusitino's youth leadership work and volunteer hours delivering Christmas packages through the Graeme Dingle Foundation.

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Sanele Aukusitino scores three in win over Eels

Wayne Cousins
Mon 23 May 2022, 08:56 AM
Manly winger Sanele Aukusitino has scored four tries in his last two games.

A hat-trick of tries to powerful winger Sanele Aukusitino saw the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles record a superb 25-18 win over the Parramatta Eels in round 11 of the NSWRL Jersey Flegg Cup.

In a very entertaining game played under lights at Ringrose Park, Wentworthville, on Saturday night, the Sea Eagles dominated the first half to race to a commanding 24-10 lead with Aukisitino scoring all three of his tries.

The Eels then fought back to trail by six late in the second half before Manly half-back Jamie Humphreys calmly landed the match winning field goal to secure victory.

Manly got off to a dream start when Aukusitino leapt high to take to take a well-placed bomb from half-back Jamie Humphreys to score in the corner in the second minute. Humphreys converted from the sideline for a 6-0 lead.

Three minutes later, Aukusitino powered his way through some flimsy defence after the ball was shifted right through the backline. Humphreys converted for a 12-0 lead.

Weekes then grabbed the Sea Eagles’ third try when he sliced through the defence to swoop on a Humphreys’ grubber kick to score next to the posts. Humphreys converted to give Manly an 18-0 lead in as many minutes.

Aukusitino then crossed for his hat-trick three minutes later when he bumped off the Eels half-back to score in the corner. Humphreys converted for a 24-0 lead after 23 minutes.

The Eels then hit back with two tries in four minutes. The first came after Manly winger Cameron Brown spilt a crossfield kick for Toni Mataele to score before a blindside raid saw winger Turoa Williams dive over for a 24-10 scoreline at the break.

Parramatta basically camped themselves inside Manly’s quarter for the first five minutes of the second half with the Sea Eagles forced to dig deep on their line.

After holding up Eels lock Brock Parker under the posts, the pressure finally told when hooker David Tui crashed through three defenders to score out wide for a 24-14 scoreline.

Williams then crossed for his second try nine minutes later after the Eels shifted the ball left for the winger to finish off a 50 metre try to get the home side back to 24-18 after 49 minutes.

Manly centre Fletcher Myers then showed his great defensive capabilities when he pulled off a trysaving tackle on forward Toni Mataele for him to lose the ball inches from the line.

The Sea Eagles were then left a man short for 10 minutes after Brown was lucky to stay on the field after a dangerous spear tackle on Mataele. He was placed on report.

With Brown off, Manly were again forced to dig deep but the Sea Eagles defence stood firm after several attacking raids.

The Sea Eagles were then rewarded for their hard work when Humphreys landed his field goal in the 67th minute for a 25-18 lead following a strong run by forward Soaia Moala that saw him pulled down short of the line.

Manly Coach Adam McEwen said his side stood up when it counted.

“They were brilliant. There is so much potential in this team,’’ McEwen said.

“I’m really proud of the character and tenacity the boys displayed in finishing off the game defensively.

“They played a great first half and executed the game plan perfectly. In previous weeks, we would have conceded, so it’s a great victory to build belief amongst the team.”

The win was Manly's fourth victory of the season and moves the Sea Eagles to ninth place.

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