Big precedent set as Greening ordered to pay damages
PA Sport
November 17, 2007

Damian Hopley, the chief executive of the Professional Rugby Players' Association, has warned against a ``very dangerous precedent'' after former England hooker Phil Greening was ordered to pay damages to an opponent over an on-field incident more than five years ago.

Greening, who earned 24 caps for his country before his retirement in 2005, was ordered to pay nearly £29,000 in damages to France winger Aurelien Rougerie after the latter sustained a throat injury following a hand-off.

The incident came as Greening's Wasps side visited Clermont-Ferrand in 2002 and resulted in a civil court action against the hooker.

Rougerie, who played for France in this year's World Cup, initially sued for around £65,000 after undergoing three operations related to the injury and was awarded nearly half that sum yesterday.

Greening insists Rougerie's injury came about as the result of a fair challenge.

Former England centre Hopley, who is now dealing with the case at Greening's request, told the Daily Mail: ``This is very shocking for the game. It sets a very dangerous precedent in a full contact sport. Because of that there is a bound to be widespread concern at this ruling.

``Having seen a video of the incident, it was a very straightforward case of a hand-off. We called Phil as soon as we heard the news and that was the first he had heard of it (the ruling).

``He has asked us to look into it as a matter of urgency.''

Wasps chief executive Tony Copsey added: ``We do not know the full implications for the sport but this would appear to set a dangerous precedent.

``Phil is an employee of the club. It's all quite unfortunate and complicated.''

Rougerie's lawyer, Jean Portejoie, said: ``The court has given a very strong sign. As far as I am aware this is a first for this type of affair.''

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