Margam rugby player is cleared of pitch assault on rival
A TEENAGE rugby player has been cleared of assaulting a rival player.
Jake David had stood trial at Swansea Crown Court charged with assaulting Thomas Rhys Hopkins.
He was alleged to have thrown a single punch at Mr Hopkins, leaving him with a fractured jaw.
Mr David, an 18-year-old flanker for Taibach youth team, admitted he had punched 17-year-old Thomas Hopkins, an Abercrave player, in self- defence.
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Mr David had been billed as a future club captain, Swansea Crown Court heard, and had shown impeccable conduct throughout his playing career.
The incident, which took place at the Taibach ground, happened in the dying minutes of a game on October 29, 2011.
Mr Hopkins, playing hooker, entered a ruck in the game's dying minutes and said as he came up from the ground he saw a “massive” fight had broken out between players from both teams around 20 metres away from him.
Members from both of the youth teams were involved in the brawl, which the game’s referee was trying to split up.
Mr Hopkins said he had stayed around 20 metres away from the fight after his coach warned players not to get involved.
He said when it had died down, presuming the game was over, he turned to walk off the pitch.
Mr Hopkins had told the jury at Swansea Crown Court he did not see the punch coming, but the single blow sent him to the floor.
He said the punch had connected with the side of his face.
Mr David, of Morlais Road, Margam, had always admitted throwing the punch but said he had reacted in that way because he feared Mr Hopkins was going to attack him after seeing him clench his fist.
He said the punch had connected with the front of Mr Hopkins’s face, as the pair were involved in a confrontation at the time.
He had denied causing grievous bodily harm and Mr David told police he did not intend to hurt Mr Hopkins, but said Mr Hopkins and another Abercrave player had approached him and as the other player pushed him to his chest, he saw Mr Hopkins clench his fist.
“I thought he was going to punch me,” he said.
“He clenched his fist and pulled it back a tiny bit and it looked like he was going to come and punch me,” Mr David told the police in his interview.
“I didn’t mean to cause him any injury at all. I am sorry about that. I just feared for my safety,” his statement said.
Mr David showed no emotion as the jury returned their unanimous verdict of not guilty.