Alleged assault puts sevens skipper in hospital

Australian rugby sevens captain James Stannard the victim of a 'one-punch' assault outside Sydney restaurant

Local media said the man accused of assaulting Stannard fled the scene but was apprehended by witnesses and several of Stannard's teammates until police arrived to arrest him.

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

"Every indication at this point in time, is that there'll be no long-term damage to James, he will be fine".

There are doubts whether James Stannard will play in the upcoming Commonwealth Games as he remains in hospital.

Insp Egbers said Stannard would remain in hospital for "a little while" under observation. He's had a clearance from the neurosurgeon, the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist as well.

Rugby Australia high performance manager Ben Whitaker said: "The reports we have at the moment is it was an unprovoked attack and very unfortunate because it's obviously it's got James in a pretty bad way health-wise and obviously health comes first and footy second, but it's cost him another Commonwealth Games, which is disappointing as well".

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

This isn't the first time Friend has dealt with a team facing emotional trauma - he was Brumbies coach when Shawn Mackay was killed in a auto accident, while his wife Kerri suffered a serious brain injury after a bike accident in 2010.

A British national has been charged over a coward-punch attack on Rugby Sevens captain James Stannard. Source Getty
A British national has been charged over a coward-punch attack on Rugby Sevens captain James Stannard. Source Getty

The team had earlier been celebrating at a farewell dinner for Friend, who did not have his contract renewed by Rugby Australia and will leave the team later this year.

Stannard was recently appointed skipper after injured captain Holland was ruled out of the Games. They said come back when you need to'.

"I've been a coach for 23 years [and] I've been to a lot of those events where you smell something is going wrong".

Lewis Holland and Ben O'Donnell gave chase, tackled the suspect and held him for police.

"He's doing really well, I think that's the important message", he said.

The team prepared for the Games here by playing two matches against New Zealand at Newington College in Sydney yesterday.

"What staggers me is we can get to the stage where we feel we can act with such violence to an individual".

He has been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and has been granted conditional bail.




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