Jury clears player over pitch injury

AN amateur rugby union player has walked free from court after a jury took less than an hour to find him not guilty of injuring an opponent.

Open-side flanker Fabrizio Mazza, 26, of Southgate, Elland, was alleged to have fractured the jaw of teenager Samuel Hopton during a match between Huddersfield YMCA 2nds and West Park 3rds back in December 2010.

YMCA player Mazza was accused of punching the 18-year-old in the face during the second half of the hard-fought contest in Huddersfield.

Bradford Crown Court was told Mr Hopton was substituted and later treated in hospital for two fractures to his jaw.

Mazza, who was charged with causing grievous bodily harm, denied throwing a punch at his opposite number and said he did not realise anyone had been injured until Mr Hopton’s father came into the home team’s changing room after the game.

The jury heard that the match referee later told a police officer he had not seen any incident and Mazza suggested that Mr Hopton may have been injured during a collision between the two players at a ruck.

The court heard that Mr Hopton, now 19, had to have a plate inserted in a his jaw to fix one of the fractures and was put on a soft food diet for up to six weeks.