Friday, May 29, 2009

Teen Rugby Manslaughter Conviction

Two years ago, at a rugby game in Mississauga, a fifteen-year-old boy died after a 'behind the play' incident with an opposing player.

The incident reminds me of two moments in all of my sports where my temper was flaring and I might have hurt someone.

The first was in a hockey game. Another player was doing something to irritate me, I don't recall what. I turned around to give him a little slash, and my stick got higher than I intended. It clipped him in the head. The play looked dirty, but I'd intended to get him in the arm. It wasn't a Chris Simon type Tomahawk full on swing, and even if the player wasn't wearing a helmet the worst he would have gotten was a bruise, but it goes to show how a slight act of aggression can go wrong.

The second incident occurred in front of the net in a ball hockey game. I was jostling for position and things got rough. I picked up the opposing player by the shorts. In that moment he was at my mercy. I could have pushed only a tiny bit and sent him crashing backwards onto his head. But I realized that. My intention to rough him up didn't include seriously hurting him, and I let go. After the game, he mentioned that he was terrified in that moment, off balance and in danger, and I'd relented and even helped him stay balanced.

I look upon this unfortunate rugby incident in both lights. It's a situation that occurs daily in sports, with the result 99.9999% of the time no major damage. There are a few nuts out there. Guys who don't have the self control to stop themselves when an opposing player is at their mercy. This young man could be one of those people. Then again, he could just be a guy who got caught up in a moment and the result caused a tragic death.

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