A teenage rugby player in Fiji is facing a possible life ban and criminal charges for assaulting a referee and breaking his nose in the process.
The incident occurred during an U19 Skipper Cup match between Naitasiri and Tailevu at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori Fiji.
Naitasiri players swamped the referee, Peni Talemaivavalagi, after disagreeing with one of his decisions, but one of the team’s flanks – Keresi Maya – took his protest further when he swung a cheap shot at the ref, who can be seen dropping to the ground after being hit in the face.
The game was called off and the Fijian Rugby Union (FRU) awarded the match to Tailevu. According to the FRU’s operations manager, Sale Sorovaki, Maya could potentially be banned for life.
‘There is no room for striking a referee in a rugby match,’ he said.
According to another 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.
Former Fiji international Nemani Nadolo also commented on the incident, writing on social media: ‘I hope that young ref who got king hit in a local game back home is ok.
‘Match official can frustrate us in the heat of the moment. It’s our duty as players to make sure their safety during the game is paramount.
‘Violence doesn’t solve anything.’