Death On The Pitch: Rugby Violence And Criminal Law In Canada

Curtis Fogel, Chadd Sine


On May 9, 2007, a 15-year-old named Manny Castillo was driven head first into the ground during a high school rugby match in Canada. Castillo suffered severe head, neck, and spinal cord injuries that led to his death in the days that followed the match. The opposing player, unnamed under the Canadian Youth Criminal Justice Act, was charged with and convicted of manslaughter for his deadly act on the pitch. This paper explores: (i) the events on the pitch that led to Castillo’s death, (ii) the legal issues that prosecutors faced in gaining a successful conviction in the rugby death, (iii) a comparison to other cases internationally where rugby players have died on the pitch, and (iv) prevention strategies to ensure a safer playing field. The data used in this study include existing literature on rugby violence and the law, media articles, and legal case files.


Rugby; Sports violence; Death in sport; Criminal law

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