Positive prognosis for Stannard after one-punch hit

Australia Sevens captain James Stannard has been ruled out of the Commonwealth Games after being assaulted on Friday.

Rugby Australia said Stannard was in hospital in a stable condition and would miss out on the Commonwealth Games, which will be held on the Gold Coast from April 4-15.

Two players in the squad, including regular captain Lewis Holland, and Friend detained the man shortly afterwards and held him until police arrived, RA said.

James Stannard is in a stable condition after the "unprovoked" incident in the popular Sydney tourist area of Coogee in the early hours of Friday, Rugby Australia said.

Friend told media today that after he saw Stannard fall to the ground, his instincts told him that the unprovoked attack could have been fatal and his next move was to chase down the alleged perpetrator.

"Every indication at this point in time, is that there'll be no long-term damage to James, he will be fine".

The blow brought back awful memories for Friend who was the Brumbies coach in 2009 when Shawn Mackay died from head injuries sustained in a road accident in South Africa.

The 35-year-old was expected to retire at the end of this season, having played for Australia since 2010.

He only recently replaced injured captain Lewis Holland.

Stannard was with a group of teammates, along with coach Andy Friend, at the time of the incident.

"The 22-year-old British National was taken to Maroubra Police Station and is being charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm".

Stannard has been cleared by his neurosurgeon and an ear, nose and throat specialist to leave hospital, however he is likely to remain there for another day.

Friend said his family, Stannard and other rugby sevens players and staff had surprised him with an early farewell party, as the Commonwealth Games will be his last event as coach.

On Thursday evening, members of the Australian team had surprised Friend with a farewell dinner at Coogee's Crowne Plaza, ahead of his contract expiring in July. They said come back when you need to'.

The team prepared for the Games here by playing two matches against New Zealand at Newington College in Sydney yesterday.

  • Stacy Allen