Jaw-breaker goes free

By ED SOUTHORN

ROAD rage, surf rage, footy rage ? we live in an often angry world.

However, despite a more litigious society, a judge last week refused to record a conviction against a footballer who broke an opponent's jaw during a Coolangatta Blues Under 18s game.

Former Coolangatta Blues seniors coach Mark "The Fridge" Roberts yesterday said that it still remained extremely rare for on-field stoushes

to end up before the courts.

Roberts, a former Australian Football League star who coached Coolangatta to a premiership two years ago, said he was a firm believer in "what happens on the field stays on the field".

Judge John Newton in the Southport District Court last week sentenced former Broadbeach Cats player Joshua Holmes to 12 months' probation.

Holmes pleaded guilty to assault causing grievous bodily harm after punching Coolangatta player Stephen Probst. Holmes received an eight-week suspension from the league tribunal.

Probst pressed police charges over the June, 2001, incident in which he received a broken jaw.

Judge Newton indicated it was not uncommon for punches to be thrown in Under 18s games and it was not surprising Holmes retaliated to taunts by Probst, although Holmes went too far.

Roberts said he was not familiar with details of the Holmes case and isolated violent incidents would always occur in football, but the local competition on the southern Gold Coast was not as violent as the local competition in metropolitan Melbourne.

"I want players to play hard, but within the rules of the game," he said.

The Holmes case decision comes just weeks after national media attention was focused on an Australian Rules grand final brawl at Cairns and a flurry of haymaker punches thrown by Brisbane Lions retiring champion Alis- tair Lynch in the AFL grand final.



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