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Czernuszka V King: Rugby Player Found Negligently Liable For “Revenge Tackle”

Womens Rugby Tackle
Monday, 20 March 2023 By Carin Hunt

In Czernuszka v King1, Spencer J held a rugby player liable in negligence for a tackle which seriously injured her opponent’s spine, leaving her paraplegic.

The parties were playing rugby union at developmental level. The tackle occurred as the claimant, who was playing scrum-half at the back of a ruck, bent down to pick up the ball. Before the claimant had picked up the ball and while she was in a vulnerable position with her neck and spine exposed, the defendant put her bodyweight forward and down onto the claimant, forcing her onto the ground with her back bent, fracturing her spine.

Spencer J, who had the benefit of reviewing a video recording of the match, including the tackle, found that the defendant had failed to exercise such a degree of care as was appropriate in all the circumstances. The defendant was accordingly liable in negligence for the injury she caused to the claimant. This is the third case in the last twelve months to apply this test to the issue of whether a competitor should be held liable for an injury caused in the course of sport – and we refer readers to this article2 by Prof Mark James for analysis of the two related cases.

Although Spencer J also determined that the defendant had acted recklessly with regard to the claimant’s safety, he considered that this was not a necessary element of negligence in the course of sport. This article reviews the case, looking at:

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Written by

Carin Hunt

Carin Hunt

Carin Hunt joined Outer Temple Chambers in September 2019, following her pupillage in which she gained experience across the core practice areas of chambers, including clinical negligence and personal injury, employment, international injury and travel, private client, court of protection, pensions, and public law.

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