Off the Wall

A court case involving a player from the Whitsunday Brahmans rugby league team is hardly likely to make the headline in other than the local bugle - but it most surely deserves to.

Brahmas centre, Adam Wright, has appeared in Mackay court this week charged with grievous bodily harm - arising for an ON FIELD brawl during a match between the Brahmans and the Sarina Crocodiles last year.

This is not the first time a player has faced criminal charges arising from an on field incident - but it ought to serve as a reminder that the threat of a criminal prosecution - and possible prison sentence - simply cannot be ignored by any player at any level of the game.

A couple of my legal friends tell me that it is only a matter of time before the practice of the police investigating serious on field incidents that result in actual bodily harm becomes significant more commonplace.

This is a complex issue.....but from the legal precedents I have seen the fact the incident took place during a game is not a defence. It is certainly not a defence against civil action for damages - and it is generally not a defence in criminal proceedings.

That does not mean we are going to have police sitting in the grandstands with video cameras recording on field incidents - but it does mean players, and officials, need to be wary that one careless on field punch can have far reaching consequences.

The case involving Wright has been adjourned for a month. I will keep an eye on its progress.

As a general rule we need to be very wary of the legal process intruding into our game - or any game.

But, like it or not, there is ample precedent for it to do so.

This may be a grey area as far as sports and sports administrators are concerned. But when it comes to the courts - and the police - the picture is much clearer!

The whole game needs to take notice.