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Waratahs coach Michael Cheika given suspended 6-month ban for verbal abuse

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SYDNEY - New South Wales Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has been given a suspended six-month ban after pleading guilty to verbally abusing a cameraman during a Super Rugby match against the Sharks last month in Durban.

South African broadcaster Super Sport complained that Cheika used abusive language in a brief confrontation with one of its employees during the March 29 match, which the Sharks won 32-10.

Cheika was charged by SANZAR, the governing body of the tournament, and sanctioned after a hearing with New Zealand-based judicial officer Nigel Hampton on Tuesday.

The suspension means that if Cheika breaches the SANZAR code of conduct again before Aug. 31, 2015, he will be banned from all forms of rugby for six months.

Hampton said Cheika used coarse language at least three times and made gestures toward the cameraman, had faced previous allegations of misconduct during his time coaching in Europe, as well as receiving a warning from SANZAR last season.

"This matter bears a number of striking similarities with past instances, particularly the use of foul and abusive language toward those charged with running a match, and the propensity of Mr. Cheika to behave in this manner is disturbing," Hampton said in his findings. "Given his previous record and the factual findings of the investigation, I regard this as a serious offence and do not see it as a result of any provocation, nor is there any excuse for it."

Cheika was also ordered to pay costs of $6,000. The 45-year-old Cheika, who took over as Waratahs head coach in October 2012 after stints in Europe with Irish province Leinster and French Top 14 club Stade Francais, can appeal.

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