Rugby club's legal battle over payout to ex-player

Press Releasein Rugby

A rugby club is appealing against a court's decision to award a former youth player £54,000 compensation after he broke his kneecap when landing on debris on the pitch.

Lawyers for Syston Rugby Club say the payout to former under-17 player Jack Sutton could have serious health and safety implications for other sports clubs and school yards nationwide.

The club, of Barkby Road, Queniborough, made the representations at the Court of Appeal in London.

Mr Sutton, now 20, from Mountsorrel, was 16 and playing for the under-17 team at Syston when he suffered a "serious and disabling fracture" of the right kneecap scoring a try during a pre-season practice match on July 2, 2007.

An investigation revealed Mr Sutton had injured himself on the "sharp stub" of a broken plastic cricket boundary marker, which protruded half an inch above the ground but was hidden in the "lush" grass. Mr Sutton - described in court as "a fast player of ability" - had his career ended by the injury and later sued Syston Rugby Football Club Ltd claiming negligence in not carrying out a thorough pre-match pitch inspection.

The club fought the claim, arguing it would have taken a fingertip search of the pitch by several people to uncover the debris and a legal requirement for sports clubs of any level, nationwide, to carry out such a pre-match routine "went too far and exceeded what was acceptable".

But in March, Judge Michael Horowitz QC, sitting at Milton Keynes County Court, found in favour of Mr Sutton - who is now studying at Nottingham Trent University - and awarded him damages of £54,000. The rugby club is appealing against that decision.

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