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Ex-rugby star helps subdue violent passenger

A former international rugby player was among the passengers who helped to subdue a man who became violent during a domestic flight Monday, police said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A former international rugby player was among the passengers who helped to subdue a man who became violent during a domestic flight Monday, police said.

The man apparently became agitated after failing to take his medication and attacked a nearby passenger as the flight from Auckland came in to land at Wellington, Sergeant Roly Gascoine said.

Other passengers, including former New Zealand All Black Ofisa Tonu'u, restrained the man for about 10 minutes and handed him over to police who were waiting when the airplane touched down, Gascoine said.

Tonu'u said the man began swearing and became violent toward the end of the trip. Tonu'u and another man forced the 42-year-old into a seat after seeing him throw punches at another male passenger.

"I managed to pin him down into this aisle seat and then launched myself on him and tried to restrain him from jumping at this guy," he told National Radio. He said he sat on the man until police arrived.

Gascoine said the man had not taken his prescription medicine, without providing details.

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"He became increasingly agitated during the flight and ultimately assaulted a man sitting near him," he said. "The assault wasn't so serious that there was a real danger to the flight, crew or passengers, but it obviously upset passengers."

The man was detained by police so he could be assessed by mental health authorities.