Calum Clark "incident" with Rob Hawkins - Arm Break

Discussion in 'RFU Championship / British-Irish Cup' started by TRF_Olyy, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. Olliekooga

    Olliekooga Academy Player

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    I assume the criminal law (as oppose to the laws of the game) that Clark would be in breach of would be under offences against the person. The issue of consent is dealt with in R v Brown (1993) in a which a group of sado masichists went at each other with 6 inch nails in the unmentionables. It was held that no person can consent to assault.

    On a less high horse note I think it is vital that the game governs itself and is seen to be doing so. Players going to the police about other players actions on the field wouls set a dangerous precedent and allow those who are not familiar with the culture of Rugby to make important decisions and affect the game adversely.

    Just my humble opinion but I haven't just had some psycho try to break my arm.
     
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  3. Teh Mite

    Teh Mite TRF Legend

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    Not as though any of the over-excitable children on this board will ever read it when there's hyperbole to be spouted:

    http://www.rfu.com/News/2012/March/NewsArticles/300312_Calum_Clark_judgment.aspx


    RUGBY FOOTBALL UNION
    DISCIPLINARY HEARING
    At: Park Inn, Heathrow
    On: Thursday 29 March 2012
    JUDGMENT.
    Player: Calum Clark Club: Northampton Saints

    Match: Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints
    Venue: Welford Road Date of match: 18 March 2012
    Judicial Officer: Jeff Blackett
    Secretariat: Bruce Reece-Russel
    Rebecca Morgan
    Attending: The Player.
    Richard Smith QC (Counsel)
    Jim Mallinder (Northampton Director of Rugby)
    Preliminary Issue
    1. The Player did not object to the RFU Disciplinary Officer sitting as a single
    judicial officer under RFU Regulation19.2.4.


    The Citing Complaint
    2. The Player was cited for, and admitted, an act contrary to good sportsmanship
    in that he hyperextended the right arm of an opponent, causing significant injury.


    3. The citing complaint stated:
    “Time on Elite Hub
    21.56 No 1 for Northampton Tonga’uiha makes break from ruck, Leicester
    forwards retreating.
    21.58 Tonga’huia goes to ground tackled by Leicester No 15 Murphy.
    21.59 Leicester No 2 comes from open play and wraps his arms over
    Tonga’huia who is on the ground
    22.00 Northampton forwards drive over the forming ruck.
    22.01 Leicester No 2 Hawkin’s left arm can be seen over the body of
    Tonga’huia22.03 Referee close to the incident on the open side of play, blow his whistle for
    an infringement and brings the game to a halt. Hawkins has arms wrapped
    round Tonga’huia
    2204 Northampton No6 Clark, on the left side can be seen to go down towards
    the ground
    22.05 Clark’s left arm can be seen withdrawing and then returning back towards
    the ground
    22.06 Clark can be seen rotating onto his back, using other players as a fulcrum
    as he pulls on the right arm of Hawkins, hyper extending the arm at the elbow
    causing a significant injury. This action takes place three seconds arger the
    whistle has been blown
    22.07 Clark rolls away from ruck. Hawkins can be seen clutching his right
    arm/elbow region.
    22.10 Hawkins can be seen in considerable discomfort and receives medical
    treatment in the field of play. Medical report is available.
    24.30 Replacement hooker for Leicester enters the match.
    The referee said that he saw nothing of the incident recorded above; he looked
    back on hearing a scream after the whistle had gone.â€


    4. I viewed the DVD footage which included two angles and reflected the
    sequence of events recorded by the citing officer. At the crucial moment, after the
    referee had blown his whistle and the ruck was breaking up, the Player held Rob
    Hawkins’ right arm under his own right arm pit and pulled the arm in the opposite
    direction to its natural bend. A Northampton player was lying on top of Hawkins so
    that he could not move when the Player pulled his arm backwards. The ruck broke up
    and Hawkins was left lying on the ground in obvious pain. He was tended by
    Leicester support staff and eventually left the field.


    5. Hawkins subsequently had an X-Ray and CT scan on his right elbow, which,
    according to an email from Puresportsmed dated 19 March, showed a comminuted
    undisplaced fracture of the coronoid process. There were too many fragments for
    surgical reconstruction but it should heal. It suggested that Hawkins would be out of
    rugby for 8 – 10 weeks. A further medical report was submitted by Andrew Wallace,
    a consultant shoulder and elbow surgeon. It stated:
    “When I took Rob to theatre on Monday, I examined his elbow under
    fluoroscopy. Whilst the joint was reasonably stable to varus-vagus loading in
    the coronal plane, it immediately subluxed at any flexion angle less than 90
    degrees. When I explored the medial aspect of the joint, I incised the flexor
    origin to expose the underlying medial collateral ligament. Fortunately this was
    intact, but I split it longitudinally to remove some small intra-articular fragments
    of the coronoid fracture that were loose in the joint. I then repaired the ligament
    and flexor origin but the coronoid fracture was too comminuted for internal
    fixation.
    Postoperatively he was placed in a backslab in 120 degrees flexion. My plan is
    to see him in 2 weeks and inspect the wound, and transfer him into a dynamic
    Mayo elbow brace. We will then gradually increase his extension range over a further four week period, hoping to achieve close to full extension by 6 weeks.
    This will depend on how well the fracture and the torn anterior capsule heals.
    After this six week period of relative immobilisation, he can then start to regain
    strength over a further 4 – 6 weeks. Therefore it will be 10 – 12 weeks before
    he will be fit to return to competitive rugby.
    There is a risk of recurrent subluxation, wound infection, residual stiffness and
    in the long term degenerative arthritis of the joint. Fortunately there was no
    nerve injury either preoperatively or postoperatively. His injury was entirely
    consistent with a forced hyper extension injury.â€


    6. The Player said that Northampton had made a break and were on the
    ascendancy. He entered the ruck looking for a body to clear out but there was none so
    he looked for the ball. He found a player (Rob Hawkins) obstructing the ball. He first
    moved to place his hand on the ball and then the whistle blew. Hawkins’s had moved
    his hand back to the ball, and that prompted him to take action so Northampton could
    play quickly. He said: “I grabbed his arm to use as a lever to roll him away in
    desperation to win the ball. I was not fully aware of how vulnerable he was and that
    his body could not roll – mainly because another Northampton player was lying on top
    of him. I felt some resistance from his hand and continued to roll back. I pinned his
    arm to my chest and hyper extended his elbow. Never any intention for that to happen
    – I expected his body weight to follow him. Because of his position he was unable to
    move.†He continued: “I had realised what I had done – I put my hand to my mouth.
    I knew I was responsible and played rest of game in a fog. After game I was
    approached by their coach who made it clear what he thought. For me the result of the
    game was insignificant.â€


    7. The Player said that after the game and since he has been devastated for lots of
    reasons, primarily for Rob Hawkins himself. He said that he would not wish an injury
    such as this on anybody. The most upsetting thing was how this reflects on him as a
    player. He said: “I am physical and aggressive but always play within laws of the
    game. It has been hard to deal with how others now think of me as a player.†He said
    that he tried to apologise to Hawkins and sought him out at after match function. But
    that was not well received – understandably – and he now intends to take it up further
    by writing to him to say how sorry and upset he is and express how he feels about it.
    Last weekend he went to coach local children and he was afraid that their parents
    would not want someone perceived as a violent player to coach them. That fear was
    difficult to deal with, although they were very understanding.
    Submissions on behalf or the Player


    8. The player is 22 years old. He has played 50 games for Northampton and
    represented England at U16, U18 and U20 levels. He has a good disciplinary record –
    with one matter recorded which occurred 5 years ago when he was 17 when he was
    sent off for a head butt which led to a sanction of 5 weeks. He is part of the EPS
    squad and had every expectation to be part of the England tour to South Africa in
    June.

    9. Mr Mallinder provided a written character reference to which he spoke. He
    said he had known the Player since he was under18 and has watched his development.
    He has seen his desire and willingness to give 100% commitment and he has watched
    him develop. He appointed the Player as captain while the international players away.
    He is a hard and committed man although he does become very frustrated at times and
    something he has to learn is how to cope with frustration. This incident has caused
    him great pain and upset and it is completely uncharacteristic.


    10. Mr Smith traversed the criteria for assessing the seriousness of the offending
    and submitted that the heart of this matter lay in the severity of the injury and the fact
    that the victim player was vulnerable. He conceded that there was no guidance within
    the recommended sanctions but suggested that, given there was no malicious intent to
    hurt or injure, and that the Player had not intended the consequences this was not at
    the top end of a scale of seriousness. Fortunately Mr Hawkins will be able to play in
    about 3 months and, without playing down the seriousness of the injury, it is
    important that any sanction was applied within the context of what occurred. He
    conceded that it would be unfair for the Player to return to play before Mr Hawkins
    was fully fit and suggested that period during which Mr Hawkins would be injured
    echoed sensibly where the appropriate sanction should lie.


    11. Mr Smith submitted that the one previous incident of foul play could be
    ignored because it was five years old and committed when the Player was under 18
    and that he could be treated as a man of good character. He said that it was clear to
    see that his remorse was genuine and that he was fully aware of what he had done. He
    asked that the Player be given full credit for all of these matters.
    Sanction


    12. I undertook an assessment of the seriousness of the Player’s conduct.
    a. The offending was intentional. The Player clearly intended to pull
    Hawkins’ arm backwards after the whistle had been blown so that the ball
    became available and his side could play the ball quickly. I accept that he
    did not intend to harm Hawkins or cause him injury. I come to that
    conclusion because the Player is not known as one who commits foul play,
    and by the way he presented and expressed himself at the hearing. He is
    not a thug and presented as a genuine young man who was prepared to, and
    accepted, responsibility for his actions and their consequences.
    b. There was no provocation. The act was designed to remove an opponent
    from the ball.
    c. The effect of the Player’s action on the victim were considerable. He
    caused him significant pain and fractured his elbow. This injury required
    surgery, will keep the victim out of the game for three months and may
    have long term effects (residual stiffness and degenerative arthritis).d. Hawkins was very vulnerable – he was trapped beneath another body and
    was unable to anticipate the Player’s actions nor take any action to avoid
    the pain and subsequent injury.
    e. The incident took about 2 seconds and there was no premeditation
    f. There was no effect on the game.
    g. The incident occurred after the referee had stopped play, and the Player
    knew that to be the case. He then applied force against an opponent so that
    his side could gain quick advantage. Taking this action after the whistle
    was blown is a pertinent feature of the Player’s conduct which constitutes
    the offending which makes it more serious, because it was not something
    that occurred during play when opponents might have been competing for
    the ball.


    8. In those circumstances I assessed that this offence was high on the scale of
    seriousness, not least because the Player intentionally bent a vulnerable opponent’s
    arm backwards causing a very severe injury, and he did so after the referee had blown
    his whistle to stop play. In assessing it as serious I would like to stress that I accept
    that the Player is not malicious and did not intend to cause serious injury. Although
    he did intend to pull Hawkins’ arm backwards he did so in an attempt to move
    Hawkins away from the ball in his eagerness to maintain his side’s momentum.
    Nevertheless he was reckless in not taking greater care to avoid causing serious injury.
    This is a unique set of circumstances and so it would be meaningless to attempt to set
    Low End, Mid Range or Top End entry points – it is enough to say this is a serious
    matter. There is no guidance in the Recommended Sanctions for this offence and in
    those circumstances the appropriate sanction to be imposed is at the discretion of the
    Judicial Officer.


    9. In exercising that discretion to determine the appropriate sanction I have
    considered the rationale behind the sanctioning process. On field discipline is based
    on at least three principles or tenets:
    a. the protection of victim players from injury;
    b. the protection of offending players from prosecution in the criminal courts
    (on the basis that provided a sport’s sanctions are sufficient the courts are
    less likely to intervene); and
    c. the protection of the image of the Game.


    10. In this case:
    a. there has been a serious injury, and any sanction must demonstrate that
    players who commit foul play – particularly interference with an opponent
    after the referee has blown his whistle to stop play - which leads to
    significant injury will be punished severely
    b. police intervention is unlikely as the Player did not have the requisite mens
    rea to have committed a criminal offence; and finallyc. this act looked dreadful and it had the potential to damage the image of the
    Game and undermine the core values of discipline, respect and
    sportsmanship.


    11. In considering an entry point I have searched for precedents from the RFU and
    other jurisdictions to see if they can render any assistance. I was unable to find any.
    In those circumstances, the sanction is at large. Had there been any evidence that the
    Player intended to hurt an opponent (even if he did not mean to injure him) the
    appropriate entry point would have been in the order of five years’ suspension
    1. That is not the case here, so the entry point can be considerably lower. However, I do not
    agree with Mr Smith’s submission that the sanction should equate to the period of
    Hawkins injury. In my view that approach would be inadequate because it would not
    reflect the serious matters noted above. The Player must be suspended for a good deal
    longer than Hawkins is absent from the game to reflect the seriousness of the
    offending.


    12. To a certain extent the entry point depends on my view of the offending and its
    effect on the Game, based on my rugby experience. It is certainly worse than the
    worst sort of punch which might attract a maximum suspension of 52 weeks, so it
    must be longer than that period. In calculating the entry point I have therefore taken
    that figure and added to it the length of time Hawkins is likely to be absent through
    injury – that is 12 weeks. In those circumstances I have determined that the entry
    point should be 64 weeks. This formula seems appropriate to reflect the importance
    of preserving the image of the game, acknowledging the injury and discomfort caused
    to Hawkins and the other factors noted which make this so serious, whilst taking
    account of all that has been said by the Player and on his behalf.


    13. There are no aggravating features and all of the standard mitigating factors are
    present. The Player is genuinely contrite, he realises the damage done to an individual
    and to the wider image of the Game, he admitted culpability at the earliest opportunity
    and he undoubtedly wishes to make reparation for his offending. He is, therefore,
    entitled to 50% discount from that entry point which leads me to conclude that the
    appropriate sanction is a suspension of 32 weeks. Since this is a long sanction it will
    run continuously through the summer vacation without a break.


    14. The Player is therefore suspended for 32 weeks from 22 March to 1
    November 2012. He may play again on 2 November 2012.
    Right of Appeal


    15. The Player is reminded of his right of appeal which should be notified to the
    RFU Disciplinary manager within 48 hours of the publication of this judgment (not
    including the weekend). For the avoidance of doubt, any appeal must be lodged by
    1200 on Tuesday 3 April.
    1
    Based on the ERC case of Trevor Brennan (2007) who left the playing arena to attack a spectator and
    was suspended for five years (on appeal).Costs


    16. The Player/Club will pay the standard costs of £500.
    Comment


    17. I commend the Club for their prompt action in suspending the Player pending
    the outcome of this hearing. I also wish to thank Mr Smith for his very helpful
    submissions and assistance in determining the correct approach to sanctioning.


    Signed: HHJ Jeff Blackett Date: 29 March 2012
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
  4. TRF_SelimNiai

    TRF_SelimNiai 'Ark at ee mun!

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    Fom that, yes I did read it all, I think the ban is just and should rid us of hyperbole. Should.

    Can we move on now please?
     
  5. Tigs Man

    Tigs Man Hall of Fame

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    Out for 12 weeks with a broken arm whilst playing against Leicester......
     
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  6. Which Tyler

    Which Tyler First XV

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    I've never wished injury on a player, but I'm not gonna cry when Karma comes a-calling
     
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  7. curtbob7

    curtbob7 First XV

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    Terrific stuff
     
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