Player guilty of assault in rugby match.
Byline: JASON EVANS Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
ARUGBY player who broke an opponent's jaw with a "sly" offthe-ball punch has been convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm.
Pontardawe prop Sion Keiron Jones launched the unprovoked attack on Ferryside second-rower Christopher Rogers in the final moments of a match between the teams.
Mr Rogers was knocked unconscious by the blow, and later needed surgery to fit metal plates and screws in his face.
Jones had denied the assault, insisting he was stuck at the bottom of a ruck at the time the Carmarthenshire player was punched to the ground.
But a jury at Swansea Crown Court found him guilty - by a majority of 10 to two - following a trial.
The 34-year-old will be sentenced next month.
The assault took place during a match between Pontardawe RFC and Ferryside RFC at the Swansea Valley side's Rec pitch in October 2017.
The trial heard that in the final moments of the game, a ruck formed in the Ferryside half of the pitch following a scrum. Mr Rogers retreated to take his position in the defensive line.
Moments later, as the Carmarthenshire man turned his head to talk to a teammate, Jones ran from behind the ruck and punched him in the side of the face with a "swing" of the arm.
Giving evidence to the jury, Mr Rogers said he did not see who had punched him and could remember nothing of the assault itself. He said that when he regained consciousness on the ground, his jaw was swollen, blood was coming from his mouth, and he could feel bone inside his mouth with his tongue.
The player was driven to hospital by teammates after being advised that an ambulance would take too long to get to Pontardawe.
A number of Ferryside players gave evidence during the trial, and they said they had seen Jones delivering the blow.
Among them was prop Stewart Peebles, who works for Dyfed-Powys Police.
He said he had spent the game scrummaging against Jones, and was sure he was the assailant.
He told the jury: "I had about 20 scrums during the game with him [Jones]. I was talking to him. I knew him before I saw his [shirt] number... It was the prop. I recognised him straight away."
However, Jones, of Min y Rhos, Ystradgynlais, maintained he was not responsible.
He and a number of his teammates testified to the court that he had been at the bottom of the ruck at the time and could not possibly have carried out the assault.
He said he knew nothing of the incident until he got out from underneath the ruck and saw the injured Ferryside player, and had no idea who had carried out the assault.
The defence said the prop had been wrongly identified as the player responsible for the punch, possibly because mud had partially obscured the number one on the back of his shirt.
After deliberating for three hours and 20 minutes, the jury of seven women and five men convicted Jones of inflicting grievous bodily harm.
Judge Keith Thomas ordered a probation report into the defendant, who will be sentenced on August 23.
<B Sion Jones