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Rising Fijian teen faces criminal charges and lifetime ban for punching referee

BY davidharper  ·  Monday Aug 31, 2020

An ugly incident has sent shockwaves through Fijian rugby. 19-year-old Keresi Maya was questioned by police after he punched the referee during a Skipper Cup U19 match against Tailevu in Nausori, Fiji. The teen is now facing charges and a potential ban from the sport.

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Maya can be seen in the video punching referee Peni Talemaivavalagi, then having to be pulled away by a teammate after Talemaivavalagi hits the ground. Maya has now been charged with one count of assault causing actual bodily harm and granted bail.

Fiji Rugby Union operations manager Sale Sorovaki said “There is no excuse for such behaviour and the law clearly states that the offender will be banned for life from rugby.”

Speaking of the incident, Maya Sr. has issued an emotional apology on behalf of the family.

“I’m really saddened by this and again I beg everyone, especially the referee Peni and his family if my Yaca can be forgiven for what he has done… Please forgive Yaca, he is a young player and has a long way to go in rugby.”

Maya had recently signed with NRL club Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks on a three-year contract but had to return to Fiji due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of now, the Fiji Rugby Union has yet to make a decision on the matter.

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