The Japan Rugby Football Union has denied rumours of a physical altercation involving No 8 Amanaki Mafi this year.
The Sydney Morning Herald revealed they were told the 28-year-old was involved in a physical altercation with a staff member while playing for Japan earlier this year.
Mafi has found himself in trouble recently, and is currently facing a serious assault charge after allegedly fighting former Rebels team-mate Lopeti Timani following their final fixture of the season in July. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.
A JRFU spokeswoman said the earlier incident from June was not physical.
“Amanaki Lelei Mafi had a disagreement with one of our staffs, but clearly it was nothing violent,” she said.
“Head coach Jamie Joseph was able to manage the situation and the case was shared and settled among the team members and staff.”
Mafi is coming off a stellar season for both Japan and the Rebels and looked to be a key piece of Japan’s Rugby World Cup campaign.
However, history tells us that Japanese rugby has a stern approach to off-field behaviour. Earlier this year former Wallabies captain George Smith was sacked following an alleged assault on a taxi driver.
Both the NTT Shining Arcs – Mafi’s Top League club in Japan – and the JRFU are waiting on the judicial process before deciding Mafi’s fate.
The Rebels – Mafi’s former Super Rugby club – this week announced an internal review of their “welfare and integrity framework” following Mafi and Timani’s altercation.
Just one week after Mafi and Timani’s alleged incident, Rebels rookies Hunter Paisami and Pone Fa’amausili were suspended indefinitely following their alleged involvement in an incident that left a man in hospital. Paisami was later charged and will face court in September.
In other news:
RugbyPass has created a next generation rugby rating system, based on machine learning and shaped by game winning moments. The system (RPI) is a world first for its complexity and comprehensive embrace of northern and southern hemisphere players and teams. By using in-depth data analysis, RPI determines exactly what it takes to win, in real time. Explore the RPI now!