Shropshire Star

Telford rugby player banned for life after breaking opponent's jaw in 'pre-meditated attack'

A rugby player who broke an opponent's jaw, leaving him on a liquid diet, has been banned from playing the sport for life.

Stuart McClymont has been banned from playing all forms of rugby union for life

Stuart McClymont, 36, a rugby player for Telford Hornets was handed a lifetime ban during a hearing at the RFU (Rugby Football Union) last month as a result after the incident during the Counties 1 Midlands West (North) at Blackberry Lane, Stafford, on January 21.

The hearing heard how during a match between Telford Hornets and Stafford RUFC, a Stafford player known as 'Mr Rock' had taken the ball into a ruck on the 10-metre line in the centre of the pitch and was positioned at the bottom having placed the ball back to his own team. Mr McClymont then approached the ruck and dropped his knee onto the jaw of his opponent.

At this point the referee blew the whistle for a penalty in relation to a different infringement. The injured player was removed from the pitch and taken to hospital.

According to the report from a panel hearing that took place on February 27, the injured player suffered a displaced parasymphyseal fracture of the left mandible consistent with a blunt force trauma to the jaw. A medical report stated: "The force was so severe as to have left a gap the size of a finger between the broken ends of jaw bone. For injuries I have seen of this type, the trauma inflicted to cause it is most severe."

The report from the panel, chaired by Ian Unsworth KC, also said that the injured player suffered nerve damage, with a doctor reporting that his inferior alveolar nerve was severed which may result in devitalisation of some lower left anterior teeth.

The injured player also spoke of losing feeling in his lower lip and that his speech had been affected by the incident. He also said he was unable to eat normally and had been on a liquid diet over the six weeks leading up to the hearing.

Mr McClymont, who was representing himself in the hearing, said in a statement that he had been playing rugby for 24 years and began at the age of six.

He added: "I cannot explain the incident, it was a moment of poor judgement, I don’t know what came over me. I did not intend to cause injury and I am devastated at the level of injury to the Stafford player.”

Mr McClymont denied reports that he was happy or smirking afterwards, and said that he felt immediate remorse and had not had the opportunity to apologise.

However, the report concluded there was a "lamentable lack of remorse or acknowledgement of guilt" from the "highly experienced" player, and that remorse was "very late".

The panel added: "We were not satisfied that the remorse that was eventually expressed was fulsome."

The report says that the panel found:

  • "The injured player was in an extremely vulnerable position. He lay on the floor, trapped by other players, with his head exposed."

  • "The player (Mr McClymont), of not insignificant weight, saw this and, deliberately and with clear intention used considerable and significant force, to drop his knee onto the exposed head of his victim."

  • "This was a deliberate and targeted strike using a part of body as a weapon."

  • "There [was] considerable momentum and force applied to the head of his victim which caused a horrific injury."

  • "The victim player has suffered significant physical injury but bluntly the easily foreseeable injury could have been much worse. It is a mercy that he suffered no brain injury or the like."

  • "The victim player has inevitably suffered significant distress and psychological harm."

  • "The Player [Mr McClymont] had ample opportunity to apologise and, in truth, did not do so, until the hearing. This was not a fulsome apology. We did not accept that the Player’s remorse was immediate."

  • "Overall, this was an deliberate, pre-mediated and opportunistic attack upon the exposed head of an opponent which could not be explained by any act of the game of rugby. It falls way outside any recognised act and has no place at all on the field of rugby."

The report also described the incident as "pre-meditated and opportunistic", adding: "Not long form pre-meditated but the player saw the position of his victim, knew that the referee would be likely unable to see this and carried out his deliberate and malicious act."

It also went onto state that Mr Rock's speech was still affected at the time of the hearing and had an impact upon his professional role. It also said that the effects of some injuries were "likely" to be permanent.

Paying tribute to the victim, the panel noted: "The panel would wish to say how impressive and measured the injured player was. He is a remarkable young man and we wish him every success in making the inevitable staged return to the game but, more importantly, in his return to improved health."

Mr McClymont was handed a ban for life and told tp pay costs of £125, with the final date for any appeal being March 28.

Telford Hornets and Stafford RUFC were both contacted for comment.

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