James Stannard has announced his immediate retirement from rugby following an unprovoked assault that left him with a fractured skill.
The Australia Men’s Sevens captain was forced to miss the Commonwealth Games on home soil in the Gold Coast after a head injury he suffered as the victim of a one-punch attack.
He had been targeting a return for the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco which takes place next month, but instead has chosen to hang up his boots.
“It was quite easy thinking about my health, but on the other hand you think that’s the last time I’ll slip on the jersey and play with these blokes, that was the hardest thing, but when it came down to my health it was quite easy,” he said.
Stannard says his family backed his decision.
“They supported me, they basically just said ‘yeah good, let’s run with it and get on with life’. I think deep down they probably didn’t want me to try and play anyway, but being a competitor I wanted to give myself the best opportunity I could to play and as it stood I just wasn’t good enough to get through it.”
Stannard is Australia’s highest ever point scorer in Sevens and is a bronze and silver medallist at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Speaking in the aftermath of the attack Rugby Australia high performance manager Ben Whitaker said “It would’ve been James’ third Commonwealth Games”
“He’s an extremely important member of our team both on-field and off-field and the team will have to show again that we’re a very resilient team to get through this to support James a) to get healthy and b) to work their way towards gold at the Comm Games.”
“He’s not available for the Commonwealth Games and that’s obviously a massive disappointment for all of us and James and his family and then once that’s sorted, we’ll look at how he can return to play.”
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Australia finished fifth at the Commonwealth Games in the absence of Stannard.
He had been due to retire at the end of the season, but that has now been brought forward.
Cult-figure Stannard became the leading Australian points scorer in World Series history when he overtook Peter Miller’s tally of 631 in Wellington in January 2016. Stannard was a member of the Australian side that won a Silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India and captained the side that won the London Sevens at Twickenham in the same year.
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