Barbarians rugby player Api Ratuniyarawa in court charged with sexual assault hours before he was due to play in Cardiff

A rugby player has appeared in court charged with sexual assault hours before he was due to play for the Barbarians against Wales in Cardiff.

Api Ratuniyarawa was released on bail and will appear at Cardiff Crown Court on 4 December.

South Wales Police said: "Api Ratuniyarawa, 37, from West Northamptonshire, was due to appear at Cardiff Magistrates' Court this morning charged with sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault by touching."

The Fiji international had been due to be on the Barbarians bench for the match at the Principality Stadium, and Wales international Aaron Shingler was called up to replace him.

Barbarians said in a statement: "As soon as we were contacted by South Wales Police we co-operated fully, assisting them with their enquiries.

"On their advice, we can't comment any further as the investigation is ongoing."

Wales Online said the charges against Ratuniyarawa related to alleged incidents at a Cardiff bar in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Ratuniyarawa played for London Irish last season after signing from Northampton Saints.

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The London Irish website says: "The Fijian lock forward arrived at Franklin's Gardens from Agen in the 2016/17 season, spending the best part of five years with Saints before departing for the capital.

"Having made over 100 appearances for Northampton, Ratuniyarawa's experience expands onto the international front after appearing in both the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups for his native Fiji.

"A 10-years and 36 caps later, Ratuniyarawa's international career began miles down the road from Irish's headquarters in Sunbury when he took on England at the national stadium back in the 2012 autumn internationals.

"He brings with him accolades aplenty, both personal and as a team, attaining the 'Breakthrough Player of the Year' award at Northampton whilst also winning the first Premiership Rugby Cup."