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Lessons learned after Filipo failure: Tew

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/09/2016

The boss of New Zealand Rugby says it was wrong for Wellington Lions rugby player Losi Filipo to continue playing after pleading guilty to an early morning assault on four people.

The 18-year-old outside back was discharged without conviction on the charges brought after an incident in Wellington last October when he appeared in court last month.

His victims questioned why he had escaped a conviction after Judge Bruce Davidson took into account what impact it would have on his rugby career.

Filipo withdrew from the Wellington Lions squad by mutual consent on Tuesday after a public backlash with some people threatening to boycott or protest at the side's matches.

Tew said it was a mistake for Filipo, who was 17 and still at school at the time of the attack in central Wellington, to be turning out for the under-19 representative side after admitting the assault on two women and two men.

"The seriousness of the assaults would suggest he shouldn't have been playing, and that decision has now been made. Too late, but we'll have to learn from that," Tew told the Paul Henry Show.

The severity of the attack left one victim unable to play rugby again and off work for eight months. He still suffers from headaches and fatigue.

Tew said he would endeavour to talk to the victims but said neither Wellington Rugby nor New Zealand Rugby were aware of the brutality of the assault which included knocking a man unconscious and stomping on his head.

Filipo made a public apology on Tuesday after withdrawing from the squad.

"I made a huge mistake that my victims and myself will have to live with for the rest of our lives," he said.

The Solicitor-General's office says it is looking into the judge's decision to grant Filipo a discharge without conviction.

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