Fijian wing banned for lifting referee

The French National Rugby League (LNR) have slapped Fijian wing Josaia Raisuqe with a five-week ban for lifting the referee after a second-division game.

Following the final whistle, when a 14-man Nevers team held on to beat Beziers 30-25 on 8 January, Raisuqe lifted referee Laurent Milotte as celebrations broke out among his Nevers teammates. Raisuqe was shown a red card as a result.

A video of the incident went viral on social media.

‘At the end of the match, the first person I saw was the referee and I lifted him up,’ Raisuqe told French publication Midi Olympique. ‘It was awkward, but I didn’t want to hurt him. I was just happy.

‘My phone kept ringing. It was unbearable,’ the 26-year-old former Stade Francais player added, before admitting that he feared losing his job.

The LNR disciplinary committee clearly did not see the funny side of the incident, handing Raisuqe a heavy five-week ban for ‘action against a match official’ and ‘disrespecting the authority of a match official’.

‘I spoke to him after the game,’ Nevers coach Xavier Pemeja said a day after the match. ‘He’s a kid in his head. He has to realise the stupidity he has done. I understand that it makes you laugh, but it doesn’t make me laugh.’

It is not the first time that the Fiji Sevens international has found himself in hot water as he was axed from Stade Francais in 2017 following a sexual assault case, for which he was received a six-month suspended sentence.