Punch lands player in court
A rugby player punched a player from the opposing team, fracturing an eye socket.
The 18-year-old victim, who was playing for Lutterworth RFC, later had surgery.
Jordan Bell-Henshaw, a Kettering player, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm.
The 20-year-old was given a 16-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and was ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work.
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Ben Gow, prosecuting, told Leicester Crown Court the match was on January 21 last year, in Lutterworth.
During a ruck, the defendant, a blind-side flanker, stamped on the victim.
Mr Gow said: "The complainant, who was playing in the second row, recalls feeling a terrible pain.
"He then remonstrated with Bell-Henshaw about the stamping."
As he turned around, the defendant delivered "an unprovoked punch" to the left side of his face, causing him to momentarily black out.
Mr Gow said: "He managed to continue playing the last 10 minutes of the match.
"In the changing room afterwards the pain increased significantly and his face began to swell up.
"He went home and when he awoke at 6am the next day, his pillow was covered in blood.
"He went to Leicester Royal Infirmary and had surgery to decompress the fracture just below his left eye."
Mr Gow said: "It's had a significant effect and he was unable to play competitive sport for four or five months.
"He's lost some confidence and feels it's had an impact on his A-level exams."
Bell-Henshaw, a trainee cable joiner, of Cambridge Street, Rothwell, Northamptonshire, had no previous convictions.
Sentencing, Judge Michael Pert QC said: "I'm told it should be regarded as a moment of madness on the rugby pitch.
"It was a cheap shot.
"There was stamping in a ruck and you then hit a man who wasn't looking your way and wasn't expecting trouble.
"You're a large lad and, not surprisingly, it caused him considerable damage.
"Much of the rest of your life has been to your credit and that swings the balance for you."
Gareth Underwood, mitigating, said: "It was a single punch thrown in the heat of the moment of a rugby game, when he lost his temper in a moment of madness.
"He's been playing since he was 12 and has never had any disciplinary findings against him or been sent off.
"A Rugby Football Union investigation may have long-term consequences for his ability to play in future."