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High Court rugby ruling could open floodgates.

THE Welsh Rugby Union was to blame for an accident during an amateur match which left a player paralysed for life, the High Court ruled yesterday.

Richard Vowles, 29, was injured in the final seconds of a local derby between Llanharan and Tondu in January 1998.

Now wheelchair-bound, he had brought a damages action against match referee David Evans, for whom the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) accepted vicarious liability.

Mr Justice Morland, sitting in London, said that Mr Evans was in breach of his duty to take reasonable care for the safety of the front row forwards in failing to order non-contested scrums. In his judgment, Mr Vowles had established on the balance of probabilities that this breach of duty was a material cause of his accident.

It is the first time that an amateur referee in any sport has been held liable in the context of an adult amateur game.

The WRU, which is considering an apeal, has warned that the the case could open the floodgates for similar actions and change the face of amateur rugby across Wales. Afterwards Mr Vowles, of Danygraig Terrace, Llanharan, south Wales, said: ``I am just chuffed to bits.''

The amount of damages will be assessed at a further hearing.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 14, 2002
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