ACT Brumbies assistant Dan McKellar hit with fine for heated referee confrontation

Dan McKellar was fined $10,000 by SANZAAR, with $5000 suspended. Photo: Melissa AdamsThe ACT Brumbies’ shattering exit from the Super Rugby title race took another twist on Tuesday when assistant coach Dan McKellar was slapped with a $10,000 fine for misconduct after a controversial end to their quarter-final loss.

McKellar has apologised to referee Angus Gardner after using crude or insulting language to the match official after a tense end to the loss to the Otago Highlanders last month.

Gardner raised the ire of everyone at Brumbyland when he denied winger Lausii Taliauli a potential match-winning try with five minutes left in the 15-9 defeat, and then refused to penalise the Highlanders’ scrum in the final seconds.

Super Rugby’s governing body, SANZAAR, did not want to comment on Gardner’s performance in the Brumbies-Highlanders match.

But McKellar’s fiery outburst after full-time has cost him dearly, with SANZAAR handing down a fine, with $5000 of the total suspended for the next 12 months.

Judicial officer Terry Willis has gagged the Brumbies from commenting on the situation, with SANZAAR boss Andy Marinos the only person allowed to speak about the issue.

Willis said McKellar had “unreservedly apologised” to Gardner since, and agreed such behaviour had no place in the game.

McKellar was found to be in breach of code of conduct sections 8.3 (k) and 8.3 (l), which states: “All persons shall not use crude, insulting or abusive language towards match officials.”

Meanwhile, the Brumbies are still waiting for a decision on coach Stephen Larkham’s immediate future, as he weighs up an option to join the Wallabies as a full-time assistant.

Larkham’s contract will expire at the end of the year and the timing of his decision will likely mean he remains with the Brumbies for at least the 2017 Super Rugby season.

However, one option is to lead the Brumbies through a transition period next year before joining the Wallabies in a permanent role in the seasons leading to the 2019 World Cup.

That would give the Brumbies time to plan for his potential departure, but the club is keen to keep Larkham for the next three seasons.

Larkham has juggled his dual role for the past two seasons, but it has limited the World Cup-winning former fly-half to less than a month of holidays since the start of last year.

He is negotiating with the Brumbies and the ARU to find the right balance and wants to play a role with both teams.

It is expected he will make his final decision within the next two weeks, to allow both camps to plan for the future.

The Brumbies are also searching for a new permanent chief executive, with the job to be advertised in the coming weeks.

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