Rugby club wins appeal against damages payment to schoolboy player

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Jack was aged 16 and playing in a pre-season game when he came into contact with a sharp stub of a broken plastic boundary marker and suffered an injury to his right kneecap.

He sued the club, claiming a negligent failure to adequately inspect the pitch before the game. In March this year the High Court upheld his claim and awarded him £54,000 damages. Syston RFC appealed and the decision was handed down yesterday.

The court ruled that the law should not impose duties of care which would make sport subject to excessive interference from the courts.  Lord Justice Longmore said: 'It is important that neither the game's professional organisation, nor the law, should lay down standards that are too difficult for ordinary coaches and match organisers to meet.' He added that the court 'must not be too astute to impose duties of care which would make rugby playing as a whole more subject to interference from the courts than it should be'. Jack has been ordered to repay the £54,000 damages, plus £45,000 in legal costs already paid by the club. He must also pay the club's £12,500 costs of mounting the appeal, along with his own legal team's costs. A hefty bill for his insurers.

Amateur clubs and schools around the UK will be breathing a sigh of relief.  Had it gone the other way, they would be forced to inspect every inch of turf for potential hazards.  Common sense has prevailed.

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