Margam teen accused of assault in rugby brawl
A RUGBY player has gone on trial accused of assaulting a rival player after a brawl broke out on the pitch in the dying seconds of a game.
Thomas Rhys Hopkins was playing for Abercrave Youth in an away match against Taibach Youth when Jake David allegedly hit him in an unprovoked attack.
Mr Hopkins, a 17-year-old hooker, had come on as a substitute in the game on October 29, 2011.
He entered a ruck in the game's dying minutes and said as he came up from the ground after the play he saw a "massive" fight had broken out between players from both teams around 20 metres away from him.
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Mr Hopkins said the fight started seconds before the final whistle. When he saw it die down, he thought the game had ended and he began walking towards the changing rooms.
Ieuan Rees, prosecuting, said: "Mr Hopkins didn't get involved in any way, shape or form and it's the prosecution case that when he was walking off, when the fight had all but died down, the defendant, Jake David, struck him from the side."
He told Swansea Crown Court Mr Hopkins did not see the punch coming and did not know who had thrown it.
"All he felt was a blow to the side of his face," said Mr Rees.
Mr Rees said that, although Mr Hopkins did not see his attacker, witnesses said it was the number 7 player, later identified as David, of Morlais Road, Margam.
David denies one count of causing grievous bodily harm.
In his opening of the case Mr Rees told the jury that in his police interview David, 18, had admitted throwing the punch but said he did so after Mr Hopkins and another Abercrave player approached him and pushed him to his chest.
David also alleged Mr Hopkins had clenched his fist and said he threw the punch in a "pre-emptive strike".
"He was saying, in short, he was acting in self defence," said Mr Rees.
Mr Hopkins's jaw was fractured in three places and two metal plates had to be put into it.
He is a pupil at Amman Valley Comprehensive in Ammanford, and said there had been no ill-feeling between the teams during the match.
"It was a normal rugby game," he told the jury.
He said he was the last player to get up from the bottom of the ruck and when he looked up he saw the fight had broken out ahead of him. He said he could see the referee trying to split the fight up and his coach was ordering his players not to get involved.
Mr Rees asked him if he then went to get involved in the brawl. Mr Hopkins replied: "No I didn't. I was 20 metres or more away from it."
Mr Hopkins then described the blow he felt.
"I felt a blow behind my left ear and it knocked me to the floor and when I got up I could feel there was something not right with my face and my jaw and when I started feeling it I could tell it was broken right the way through," said Mr Hopkins.
The trial continues.