Rugby sevens captain James Stannard’s skull has been fractured in a one-punch attackA team dinner farewelling the n men’s rugby sevens coach has ended with the captain in hospital, ruled out of the Commonwealth Games with a fractured skull.
James Stannard was allegedly struck by a British man in an unprovoked attack after a “nice conversation” with him outside a kebab shop in Coogee, in Sydney’s east, just after 3am.
The 35-year-old had been out with teammates and his coach Andy Friend, who earlier this month was told his contract would not be renewed next season.
It was Friend and Stannard’s teammates Lewis Holland and Ben O’Donnell who chased down the 22-year-old Brit as he tried to flee.
While said to be in a stable condition at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, Stannard is no chance of competing in a third Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast from April 14.
‘s Commonwealth Games team boss Steve Moneghetti described the incident as sickening.
“While we are absolutely disappointed for James that this terrible incident has cost him a chance at competing at the Commonwealth Games, at this stage our primary concern is his welfare,” Moneghetti said in a statement.
Stannard had planned to retire at season’s end but his future in the game is now unclear, with Rugby unsure of a recovery timeline.
The 2016 Olympian’s withdrawal is a massive blow for the inexperienced side, with Stannard only assuming the captaincy this month in the absence of injured star Holland.
“They’re shocked and the team will have to show again that they are a very resilient team,” said RA high performance general manager Ben Whitaker.
Whitaker described it as “an unfortunate incident, but not unique” at what was a “very civilised and organised event”.
Police say Stannard was standing outside the kebab shop when he was allegedly punched in an unprovoked assault, causing him to fall and strike his head on the pavement.
Inspector Steve Egbers says the two men were “seemingly having a nice conversation” at the time.
“When he (Stannard) fell to the ground he’s done some damage to the side of his head, and the offender ran off,” Insp Egbers said.
Stannard led to a 36-12 Games warm-up win against New Zealand in Sydney on Thursday.
The teams were due to play again Friday, but the game was cancelled on Thursday due to a raft of New Zealand injuries with the players then given the day off.
A 22-year-old man was interviewed at Maroubra Police Station and has been charged with assault occasioning bodily harm.
Bailed on strict conditions, he is expected to appear at Waverley Local Court on April 19.
Stannard’s replacement is yet to be named.