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'It was unbearable. I was scared... I was afraid I'd lose my job' - Fijian player who lifted ProD2 ref breaks silence

By Ian Cameron
Josaia Raisuqe and Kwagga Smith (Photo by Sam Tsang/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)

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The player who hoisted a referee into the air at the end of a ProD2 match in France has broken his silence in an interview with Midi Olympique. Josaia Raisuque says he deeply regrets the incident, which is either hilarious or outrageous, depending on who you talk to.


Raisuque hoisted referee Laurent Millotte into the air in a moment that had become a viral hit in rugby circles. Milotte gave him a red card after Beziers players made a huge fuss, hoping to have the crucial penalty reversed.

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Referee JP Doyle reacts to the incident in the ProD2.

Now Raisuque has told Midi Olympique that he lifted the referee in joy and meant no ill will towards him and how he has endured a hellish week of no sleep as his phone won’t stop ringing. “The day after the game, when I woke up, it was all over the internet. I was completely overwhelmed by the event. On Instagram and Facebook, I had hundreds of posts. My phone kept ringing. It was unbearable.

“I was scared,” he told Midi. “I was afraid the leaders of Nevers would be angry. I was afraid of losing my job. I thought to myself that maybe what I had done was serious.”

The 6’4, 113kg winger did a funny dance before lifting Millotte into the air. “It was just a way of expressing my joy. We had just won in Béziers (30-25), the performance was good, I was excited.”

“I was happy, that’s all: in Pro D2 it’s hard to win away from home. […] At the time, I did not calculate anything. At the end of the match, the first person I saw was the referee and I lifted him up, that’s all. It was awkward but I didn’t mean to hurt him! I was just happy!”


Although at first, his teammates found the incident highly amusing, they later pointed out it was probably a step too far.

“At first, it made them laugh. Then in the locker room, some of them said to me: “We don’t do that here, Wini. You may have big problems.” That’s when I realized … Until then, I hadn’t thought about the consequences. It was just an instinctive thing.”

The winger who used to play for Stade Francais in the Top 14 said that he would like to tell the referee that he is sorry, as he didn’t see the official following the match.


“I would have liked to tell him that I was sorry, that there was no aggressiveness in my gesture… I would have liked to tell him that at home, rugby is just a game and that we appreciate it differently, that’s all.”

“I know that I should not have behaved this way.”

“A few hours later all my friends in Fiji knew about it. It all got over me. My father called me. He was pissed off and I don’t like it when he’s like that. […] After that I had a really hard time sleeping. Not only because I felt guilty but also because the phone would not stop ringing …

“I’m afraid of being heavily punished. The disciplinary committee, that’s all I think about. I hope they will understand though that my gesture was not aggressive.

“I regret it so much… I don’t know why I did this.”

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'It was unbearable. I was scared... I was afraid I'd lose my job' - Fijian player who lifted ProD2 ref breaks silence