Six-year ban for Fiji teen

The Fiji Rugby Union has confirmed that a teenage rugby player has been handed a six-year ban from all forms of rugby for attacking a referee.

19-year-old Keresi Maya was handed the suspension following his violent attack on a referee during a U19 match between Naitasiri and Tailevu on 29 August.

The blindside flank, who played for Naitasiri, threw a punch at referee Peni Talemaivavalgi’s face after disagreeing with a decision, leaving him floored and bleeding with a broken nose. The game was called off and the Fijian Rugby Union (FRU) awarded the match to Tailevu.

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According to Fijian journalist Filipe Naikaso, Maya was set to take up a three-year contract with the Cronulla Sharks in the NRL, a move delayed only by the travel restrictions in Australia due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Maya only played for Naitasiri while awaiting word from Australia.

The Fiji Sun reported that the hearing was conducted in line with World Rugby’s regulation 17 where the player was represented by his legal representative and his union team manager.

Tournament director and Fiji Rugby operations manager Sale Sorovaki said that all players owed a duty of care to ensure the safety of other players, match officials and any other administrative personnel and Maya’s act of foul play needed to be sanctioned appropriately.

FRU chief executive John O’Connor confirmed that both Fiji Rugby and the country’s referees association had made submissions for a life ban for Maya.

O’Connor said that going forward, any player found verbally abusing a match official would be warned before being sent to the sin bin, should the offence be repeated.

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