A British man has been charged with assault over an incident that saw Australia’s Commonwealth Games rugby sevens captain rushed to hospital with a head injury.
The 22-year-old suspect, who has not been named, allegedly floored James Stannard with a single punch during an “unprovoked” attack outside a Sydney kebab shop in the early hours of Friday morning.
The player, 35, struck his head on the pavement and was taken to hospital, where he was reportedly diagnosed with a fractured skull.
Described as being in a stable condition, the injury has thrown his participation in the coming games into doubt.
Stannard’s alleged attacker attempted to flee the scene after the incident, but was apprehended by witnesses until police arrived.
According to local reports, Stannard had been out for dinner with team mates ahead of the Gold Coast games in five days.
His fellow players are said to have been among the bystanders to apprehend the alleged assailant.
Inspector Steven Egbers, of New South Wales police, told the Sydney Morning Herald: “Two men were talking with each other, seemingly having a nice conversation and then one of the males has punched the other male in the head area, causing him to fall to the ground and he’s hit his head in the pavement.
“When he fell to the ground he’s done some damage to the side of his head and the offender ran off.”
According to rugby.com.au, the team’s coach Andy Friend and Stannard’s teammates Lewis Holland and Ben O’Donnell grabbed the alleged attacker.
The group are said to have been at a farewell dinner for Friend, who is expected to step down after the games, before heading to the Coogee Bay Hotel bar.
Police said the incident happened at about 3.10am outside a kebab shop in Coogee, a coastal suburb of Sydney, when he was “punched in the head in an alleged unprovoked assault”.
Stannard was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital in the city centre where he was understood to be “in a stable condition with head injuries”.
“The 22-year-old British National was taken to Maroubra Police Station and is being charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm,” the force said.
The Briton has been bailed on “strict” conditions until an appearance at Waverley Local Court on 19 April police said.
Rugby Australia said it was “aware of an incident which has resulted in the hospitalisation of Australian Men’s Sevens player James Stannard in Sydney overnight”.
“Rugby Australia is working with NSW Police to investigate the matter and will provide a further update later today.”
Stannard was made captain of Australia’s Commonwealth Games side earlier in March after skipper Lewis Holland was ruled out due to a hamstring injury.