17 Oct 2016

'Serious misconduct': Smith given formal warning

7:11 pm on 17 October 2016

All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith has been given a formal warning and has stood down from this weekend's test over an incident at Christchurch Airport.

All Black Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith Photo: PhotoSport

Smith was seen entering a toilet cubicle with a woman at the airport on the day after the test against South Africa last month.

Smith said later he had made a huge mistake and apologised to his partner, both his and her families, his teammates and New Zealand fans.

New Zealand Rugby said in a statement today it had held a disciplinary meeting with the halfback and decided Smith's actions amounted to "serious misconduct".

Smith would voluntarily stand down from this weekend's Bledisloe Cup match against Australia and would forfeit his selection fees, it said.

New Zealand Rugby general manager Neil Sorensen, who chaired the disciplinary panel, said Smith "presented himself as genuine, honest and incredibly remorseful".

The panel took into account the impact of the publicity on Smith, his subsequent public apology and that he had already served a one-week stand-down, Mr Sorensen said.

"We accepted that he is genuine about wanting to improve himself," he said.

'Rugby culture' under review

New Zealand Rugby, meanwhile, has confirmed an independent review of its culture following a string of off-field incidents that have embarrassed the organisation.

The review is intended to address cultural issues, particularly around attitudes to women.

In August, a woman said she was abused and harassed by Chiefs players while performing as a stripper during the team's end-of-season celebrations.

Those allegations were rejected by a New Zealand Rugby internal investigation, though it later conceded the investigation should have been run independently.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.