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Last Updated: Monday, 12 November 2007, 12:16 GMT
Rugby player jailed for stamping
Glynneath RFC, where the wounding took place
The wounding took place at Glynneath's rugby ground
A rugby player has been jailed for 15 months at Swansea Crown Court for stamping on an opponent's head.

Rhys Garfield, 23, of Pontycymmer, was playing for his village team when he stamped on Gareth Howells, who was playing for the home side, Glynneath.

The promising No 8 caused a 10cm wound which needed 30 stitches. The judge said it was "wholly unacceptable behaviour" on a rugby field.

Garfield had been found guilty by a jury of unlawful wounding last month.

The court heard the game took place on 10 December 2005.

Cut short

Early in the match, Garfield had been seen to stamp on Mr Howells' head following a line-out.

In mitigation, Andrew Davies, defending, said the incident was out of character and Garfield had shown genuine remorse.

"Rhys Garfield is a young man of considerable ability. He's a talented sportsman who had attracted the attention of regional rugby teams."

Photo of wound victim
Gareth Howells needed 30 stitches in a head wound

He said following the incident Garfield's own career had been cut short while he bravely saved a fellow employee during an accident at work.

Mr Davies asked the judge to consider a suspended sentence as Garfield had "otherwise had a blameless and dedicated young life."

He described Mr Howells' permanent injuries as "cosmetic" and said that he had returned to playing the game.

But the judge Recorder Gareth Jones said only a custodial sentence was appropriate.

He told Garfield his conduct on the rugby field was "wholly unacceptable."

After the trial last month Mr Howells explained his decision to press charges.

"I did not want the same thing to happen to another player, and the verdict goes to show you cannot get away with that sort of thing," he said.

He added: "I have had plenty of knocks during that time, but this was something else.

"I know people can overstep the line in rugby and become aggressive, but this was beyond that. I did not want this person to get away with that."

The Welsh Rugby Union said there was no place for violence in the game.

"If any individual breaks the law, on or off the sports pitch, clearly, if that case is proven, all the penalties available to the court including imprisonment may be imposed," said a spokesman.

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