Pay up for dirty play


Rugby matches between the Paarl and Stellenbosch high schools were always tough but Ryand Hattingh could never have thought an under-19A game in 2005 would end his rugby-playing days and his dream of becoming a pilot.

In fact he’s lucky the neck injury he sustained didn’t kill him.

At their home in Cape Town the 24-year-old and his family recently celebrated his success in a groundbreaking lawsuit that found an opposing player responsible for having caused his injury.

An illegal and highly dangerous scrumming manoeuvre initiated by opponent Alex Roux forced Ryand’s neck downwards, breaking his C5 and C6 vertebrae.

He has been left semi-disabled – although a doctor said if his head had moved a fraction more he could have died or been paralysed.

Ryand will now pursue a damages claim – for hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of rands – to compensate for loss of income and to cover future medical expenses.

The court ruling confirms that although rugby involves physical contest, players aren’t consenting to be injured in illegal play, says Cape Town-based personal injury lawyer Tzvi Brivik.

The judge found that illegal, malicious and highly dangerous play had led to grave injury so the offending party carries civil liability.

It doesn’t imply that every dangerous tackle, for instance, will result in court action, sports scientist Professor Tim Noakes says. ‘‘In this case there were very specific circumstances. It’s very difficult to prove malicious intent.’’

See the 19 May 2011 issue of YOU for advice on avoiding rugby injuries and an infographic on the most frequent injuries. CLICK HERE to follow us on Twitter.

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