Friday, 25 April 2008


Yesterday's Independent carried a truly shocking story about how Scott Leonard, brother of England legend Jason Leonard, sustained a quite horrific facial injury last year while playing for Clacton in the Essex leagues - an injury which ended his playing career.

The 34 year old former Royal Marine was extremely fortunate not to have been blinded after having been stamped on - deliberately, he maintains - by an opposition player. Not only that, but it turned out that the player who caused the injury should not have been on the field at all as he was already serving a suspension and was playing in the match as an unregistered "ringer".

Although the local disciplinary committee banned the player for a further twenty weeks for playing while suspended and the club in question was docked points for playing an unregistered player, no charge of violent conduct was ever brought against the player, despite Clacton citing him and despite the matter being reported to the police. Lack of evidence seems to have undermined the case, despite a number of Leonard's teammates having witnessed the incident.

Let down by the system, Leonard is left with his only remaining option and is taking legal advice with a view to bringing a civil action against the player. An overreaction to what the player in question insists was an accident? I don't think so - on a rugby field you tend to know when you've been caught accidentally and when it's a deliberate act of thuggery. There have been countless times when I've been caught at the bottom of rucks and have emerged with telltale stud marks on various parts of my anatomy - it pretty much goes with the territory - but I clearly recall one particular occasion when I knew for certain that I was the victim of a deliberate stamp - and I still bear that scar on my chin as a reminder.

Leonard knows he was the victim of a cowardly attack. As he says:"I feel very strongly about the fact that there are people playing rugby who think they can get away with anything."

Let's just hope that, by taking the thug in question to court, Leonard sends out a clear message that this is not the case.


David said...

It is very disappointing how many players believe a "good shoeing" is still an integral part of the game. Boots on bodies is actively discouraged by referees. If you are on the wrong side and get trampled, your perpetrator is going to get stiff talking too. If its a clear 'stamp' he is off the field and head and joint action will see a red card. The difficulty for the ref is seeing the incident and getting a shirt number.

Total Flanker said...

Hmmm - that's a difficult one as I'm all in favour of rucking in the traditional sense i.e. the pack being allowed to drive over the ball if you happen to get trodden on then so be it. There's a big difference though between being trodden on and being stamped on and I think both players and refs are completely aware of the distinction.