Sydney – NSW Waratahs coach Michael Cheika was hit with a suspended six-month ban on Wednesday for abusing a cameraman during the Australian team's March loss to Super 15 leaders the Coastal Sharks in Durban.

Governing body Sanzar also ordered Cheika to write a letter of apology to the cameraman and pay $5 500 (about R60 000) in costs, warning the ban would be triggered if he re-offended.

Sanzar judicial officer Nigel Hampton found Cheika repeatedly swore at the cameraman shortly after half-time as his team were handed a 32-10 drubbing by the Sharks.

“Mr Cheika, unfortunately and unprofessionally, vented his frustration on a matchday cameraman who was merely fulfilling his expected role for his employer and, ultimately, for Sanzar,” Hampton said.

Hampton acknowledged Cheika, 47, pleaded guilty to using “crude, insulting or abusive actions” but also noted that the coach’s representatives had inappropriately accused witnesses of fabricating evidence.

He said the abuse was unprovoked and Cheika’s record showed he had a “disturbing” propensity to abuse match officials.

“This decision sends a clear message that this type of behaviour and the inherent lack of respect it demonstrates is not acceptable and will not be tolerated,” Hampton said.

In 2011, Cheika, then coaching Stade Francais, had to pay a fine of $30 400, half of it suspended, for insulting comments he made to match officials during his side’s European Challenge Cup final defeat to Harlequins.

Sanzar gave Cheika a warning about his behaviourin 2013 but the coach reportedly smashed the glass door of the coaching box at Canberra Stadium in March after the Waratahs were defeated by the Brumbies. – Sapa-AFP