England rugby player 'broke flanker's jaw'

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THE ENGLAND rugby player Gary Rees, who has been capped 23 times, punched a rival player from behind, breaking his jaw, a court was told yesterday.

After the incident in the club match between Nottingham, Mr Rees's team, and London Irish, doctors had to wire Stefan Marty's jaw, insert a metal plate and put him on a liquid diet for a considerable time, Kingston Crown Court was told.

David Jeremy, for the prosecution, said: 'It was a blow that was delivered obviously by a very fit athlete from behind on a man who had no warning it was coming.'

He had not played rugby since the incident, last January. Mr Rees, 23, denied inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Marty during the match at London Irish's ground in Sunbury, west London. Mr Jeremy said Mr Rees was playing flanker opposite Mr Marty. After a second-half line-out, Mr Marty moved towards his end of the pitch. 'Mr Rees was seen to follow Stefan Marty and punch him once from behind to the side of the face.'

When interviewed by police, Mr Rees told them he had pushed Mr Marty. It was an accident and he had intended his opponent no harm. The trial continues today.

Mike Watkins, 40, the former Wales rugby captain, denied causing actual bodily harm to an 18- year-old player at Cardiff Athletic Club in May. It was alleged at Cardiff Crown Court that he had prodded his thumbs into Anthony Hurford's eyes in a row over a club badge. The trial continues today.