Court rules on rugby injuries

2012-09-27 14:55

Bloemfontein - A flagrant contravention of rugby rules that resulted in a serious injury could attract legal liability, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled on Thursday.

The SCA dismissed an appeal by Alex Roux against an order of the Western Cape High Court, which declared he was legally liable for the neck injury of an opponent.

Ryand Hattingh’s neck was broken during a rugby match between the first teams of Labori High School and Stellenbosch High School in 2005.

Evidence in court found Hattingh, playing hooker, had complained about Roux’s scrumming manner prior to the conduct that resulted in the injuries.

As the forwards were forming a scrum, Roux had shouted the word "jack-knife" and then blocked the channel into which Hattingh’s head was meant to go.

Because of this, Hattingh’s head was forced downwards and his neck was broken.

The hooker who replaced Hattingh also complained about similar conduct against Roux.

Roux had denied any wrongdoing.

The high court accepted the evidence of Hattingh and rejected that of Roux.

It had found Roux had acted intentionally when he first shouted "jack-knife" before blocking Hattingh’s channel, and his conduct was wrongful.

The high court held Roux’s actions were planned and deliberate, extremely dangerous and in serious violation of the rules of the game.

Roux appealed to the SCA.

The unanimous judgment of five judges' found the high court’s factual findings could not be faulted and the conclusion that Roux had acted deliberately was faultless.

Roux’s conduct was indeed wrongful, and the SCA held it was so.

The judges found the "jack-knife" manoeuvre executed by Roux was in contravention of the rules as well as contrary to the spirit and conventions of the game.

The judges held Roux must have foreseen that the manoeuvre was likely to cause injury to Hattingh but proceeded to execute it nonetheless.

The SCA concluded that all the injuries were caused by Roux and dismissed an expert’s suggestion to the contrary.

The court considered the legal principles which would apply to wrongful claims arising from injuries suffered in a game such as rugby.

The judges found only conduct that constitutes a flagrant contravention of the rules of rugby and which was aimed at causing serious injury, or which was accompanied by a full awareness that serious injury may ensue, would be regarded as wrongful.

It would therefore attract legal liability for the resulting harm, the judgment held.


  • doppies.joubert - 2012-09-27 15:56

    Hopefully this would be a good start to get rid of the thuggery in school rugby..... often supported by the thug's parents.

      cape.maori - 2012-09-27 15:59

      Klink of jy lekker gebliksem is op skool!

      merven.halo - 2012-09-27 16:26

      Unlike you Capies that rather stab with knifes and screwdrivers.

      Citroes - 2012-09-27 17:10

      @CapeMaori - can you read and write? You come across as dumb as dogsh@t.

      klippies.coke.7 - 2012-09-28 15:25

      @cape.maori klink of jy lekker gebliksem is en nogsteeds nie jou les geleer het nie.

  • abri.spies - 2012-09-27 16:12

    @cape maori~ die kind waaroor die berig gaan, sit in 'n rystoel vir die res van sy lewe. As jy ten gunste is van hierdie tipe spel is, moet jy jou kop laat lees.

  • peter.neethling.7 - 2012-09-27 16:21

    I would think that the coach would be as much to blame in this case. Who else would have taught him this move. The player, the coach and ultimately the schools should be held accountable. The player and coach deserve life bans from all forms of rugby and the school should have to pay!! Don't get me started on the ref!!

      grant.callaway.50 - 2012-09-28 09:50

      I think its a good precedent to be set (although must be used sensibly). Watching football for instance, certain challenges are beyond fouls! They are clear intent to cause harm! I've often thought "of his leg was severely broken, and his career ended as a result, I'd love to see charges being pressed for assault! Same thing with PROPER spear-tackles! Not these soft things refs are going stupid about, but the ones where it genuinely looks like there is an attempt to break the guy's neck. That stuff is not part of the game! You get sandwiched between two tacklers, and the awkward position leaves you crippled, well that unfortunatley IS part of the game... you have to accept an element of risk. But deliberately attempting to cause serious injury - that stuff needs more than 10 minutes in the sin-bin!

      tim.mills.94009 - 2012-09-28 14:53

      I 100% agree Peter but all ALL should be held accountable not just the coach or ref or player!

  • fred.vandermerwe - 2012-09-27 18:24

    Great result and yes ban the schools, coaches and players from rugby. But what about the referee? The player and his replacements complained and still the referee did nothing. I say, take the province, referee and SARU to court. There are to many injuries due to refs not being trained properly, scared or favour a team.

      tim.mills.94009 - 2012-09-28 14:51

      Could not agree with you more Fred - Check this out

  • jeremy002 - 2012-09-28 05:20

    As long as it does not set a precedent for sue and counter-sue for every little law infingement that leads to injury. Rugby in it's present form is half dead and litigation around this head butt and that punch will kill it off entirely. Players will need to take out professional indemnity insurance like doctors.

  • juannepierre - 2012-09-28 05:59

    It's a game, you die hard fans need to find something more substantial in life to support than allowing your sons to leave a GAME with a broken neck.

      grant.callaway.50 - 2012-09-28 09:55

      Oh yeah... 50cm thick bubble-wrapping is the way to go!! I for one, wont let my kid ride a bicycle or skateboard, cos bad things can happen. No football (just look at what happened to Muamba)... Tennis is out of the question - remember Monica Selles getting stabbed?? They arent allowed to go in a car either, cos there are just too many deaths on the road. They cant stay at any friends' houses, because their parents could be rapists! I'm also going to forbid them from ever having sex, cos with all the diseases around... Definitely have to wear a gas-mask at all times, because taburculosis is air-bound. I'll just keep adding to my list. I know my kid will never be able to actually LIVE, but hey - at least I cant be blamed if something bad ever happens... right??

  • willem.slabbert.9 - 2012-09-28 08:24

    shame man, the poor kid. if you think about it roux is also just a kid and probably didn't realize how serious the result could be. feel sorry for him as well although i think the judgment is 100%. i think a coach in situations like these should also be held responsible. @maori you wanker

      tim.mills.94009 - 2012-09-28 14:48

      and the ref!

  • bidvir.dowweduane - 2012-09-28 09:13

    Daar is `n page op facebook wat mense kan gan like = `Bid vir Dowwe Duane` Redes vir bid behels : -sy drankprobleem -die feit wat hy werkloos is en tussen werke spring -dat hy geen meisie,vrou,kinders, of vriende het nie

  • andre.terblanche.5 - 2012-09-28 12:48

    Wp leer sy mense om kop te stamp, oe te krap en slaan op die veld. Straf hulle!!!!

  • francois.crous.54 - 2012-09-28 14:20

    firstly, anyone who's played in the front row will know that you get taught illegal scrummaging manouvres, therefore the coaching staff and the referee should be liable aswell, the ref should know whats happening in the scrums and act accordingly, to hold a school boy liable for doing what he is coached to is absurd...

  • tim.mills.94009 - 2012-09-28 14:29

    What about the ref? Is he not liable too ? Especially since the replacement hooker "...who replaced Hattingh also complained about similar conduct against Roux."

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