Mr. Justice Morland found in favour of Mr Vowles and held that Mr. Evans and the Union were negligent but not the Llanharan RFC.
The final decision was announced today (13th December, 2002) in London following three days of evidence in the Swansea High Court in October 2002 and a further day of submissions at Mold.
THE HISTORY OF THE CASE
Richard Vowles was playing as Hooker for Llanharan 2nd XV against Tondu 2nd XV at Llanharan Dairy Field on Saturday 17th January 1998. Mr Evans, and experienced Welsh Rugby Union referee and practising solicitor, refereed the match.
Early in the game, the Llanharan loosehead prop had to leave the field. He was replaced by a back row forward who had limited experience of the front row. Llanharan declined the referee's invitation to proceed with non-contested scrums. In injury time, and in what was likely to have been the last scrum of the match, Mr Vowles suffered a severe injury which left him paralysed when the packs failed to engage properly, although the scrum did not collapse.
We are concerned about the judgment which has today been delivered by Mr Justice Morland and the implications of the decision for the game of rugby union. The detail of the judgment is currently being studied by our legal advisers with a view to consideration of an appeal.
The Chairman of the WRU, Glanmor Griffiths, said: "The fact that the Union contested this case in no way detracts from our commitment to ensure a safe management of the game of rugby at all levels.
"Each year the Union invests heavily in player, coach and referee education and puts the safety of players at all levels as a number one priority. In addition, the Union is able to boast some of the highest standards of refereeing in the world game."
As a result of his severe injury, Mr Vowles received a payment of Â£91,000, the maximum payment available pursuant to the disability insurance cover provided for all 239 of its member clubs by the Welsh Rugby Union. This payment was received in September, 1998.