Schoolmaster tackled hard over rugby incident

HEYWOOD, R. and CHARLISH, P. (2007). Schoolmaster tackled hard over rugby incident. Tort law review, 15.


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Tort law is playing an increasing role in sport. This is evident both in the professional arena and at amateur level. Within the sport of rugby union, two recent decisions from the English Court of Appeal concerning the liability of referees have caused a certain amount of unease among competitors, referees and sports enthusiasts alike. It is against this background that one should view with interest the latest decision emanating from the Court of Appeal regarding liability for injuries caused on the rugby field. In Mountford v Newlands School [2007] EWCA Civ 21 a schoolmaster in charge of the opposing team was held liable, and his employer school vicariously so, for the injuries caused to a 14-year-old schoolboy who was tackled legally by an opposition player who was over the age of 15 at the time and therefore ineligible to play in the match under the England Rugby Football Schools’ Union (ERFSU) guidelines. The ruling has implications for youth rugby at all levels, in particular inter-school and college competitions. This is because an overly restrictive view of the ERFSU guidelines, coupled with the difficulties associated with the “school-year”, makes it difficult for certain juniors to play within their allotted age-group. This article criticises the Court of Appeal’s overly restrictive interpretation of the ERFSU guidelines. First, it explores the rationale for imposing liability and analyses the legal questions pertaining to the breach of duty. Second, the article explores the complex question of causation inherent in the case. The article concludes by discussing the legal status of guidelines in sport and highlights the potential public policy implications of this ruling on youth sport at all levels, with a particular emphasis on junior rugby. While the article deals predominantly with a problem which arose in England as a result of legal construal of the ERFSU guidelines, the issues raised are nonetheless capable of application to all sports, in England, Australia or elsewhere.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright: Lawbook
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Law Research Group
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2010 13:49
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 08:03

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