Teenage Rugby Player Convicted In On-Field Death

It’s a scene that happens every day somewhere: two 15-year-olds get into a scrap on the field during a high school sporting event. In this case, it was a rugby field in Canada, and there was an altercation near the end of the match. But then one of the players did something that turned the situation from an average tussle to something tragic: he picked up Manny Castillo, flipped him upside down and drove him headfirst into the ground. Castillo suffered severe head injuries and died a short time later.

Teen rugby funeral

The case sent shockwaves throughout Canada, and THE GLOBE AND MAIL says the player who attacked Castillo - whose name was not released because of Canadian law - was convicted of manslaughter yesterday. So now the former captain for Erindale High - who also was a star player in the Ontario Hockey League and might have had a pro career - faces three years in jail if convicted as a minor and a possible life sentence if convicted as an adult.

The player’s lawyer argued that the injury occurred on the field of play, and Castillo knew the risks and accepted them by stepping onto the field. The judge in the case wasn’t buying that piledriving a player and driving him head-first onto the turf was part of the game, or that being on the field excuses you from the rule of law:

“The playing field is not a criminal law-free zone,” Judge Duncan said. “The laws of the land apply in the same way as they do elsewhere … There was no justification in self defense. Accordingly, the defendant committed an assault, an unlawful act. That unlawful act caused death.”

Canadian rugby officials are concerned about the ruling, as they think it is “going to confirm a lot of incorrect suspicions about the game.” Like that the sport is played by a bunch of goons looking to destroy someone with no regard for their health or safety? I can’t imagine where someone would get that idea.