Australia sevens captain out of CGames after head punch

James Stannard had been due to lead Australia's sevens team at the Commonwealth Games
AFP

Sydney (AFP) – Australia’s sevens rugby captain James Stannard will miss the Commonwealth Games after being punched in the head in an “alleged unprovoked assault”, police and Rugby Australia said Friday.

The 35-year-old, who had been at a farewell dinner for outgoing head coach Andy Friend late Thursday, was allegedly attacked in the Sydney suburb of Coogee early Friday, New South Wales state police said.

“As a result, he fell and struck his head on the pavement,” police said in a statement.

Rugby Australia said Stannard was in hospital in a stable condition with a fractured skull and would miss out on the Commonwealth Games, which will be held on the Gold Coast from April 4-15.

“Right now, he’s got some time to heal and he’s not available for the Comm Games,” Rugby Australia’s high-performance general manager Ben Whitaker told reporters in Sydney.

“It’s obviously a massive disappointment for all of us and James and his family.

“Once that’s all sorted, then we can look at how he can return to play.”

The governing body said earlier that two of Stannard’s teammates Lewis Holland and Ben O’Donnell, as well as Friend, detained the alleged attacker — a 22-year-old Briton — until police arrived.

“The 22-year-old man who threw the punch then fled the scene, but was apprehended by witnesses until police arrived and placed him under arrest,” NSW Police added.

The British man, charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, was granted conditional bail Friday and is due to return to court on April 19.

Stannard was to lead Australia’s sevens team at the Commonwealth Games after injured captain Holland was ruled out earlier in March.

Rugby Australia said in mid-March that Friend’s contract, due to expire in July, would not be renewed.

Current women’s sevens coach Tim Walsh, who is leaving his role after the Commonwealth Games, was selected as Friend’s replacement.

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