Athlete met with academic yesterday evening at the University of Limerick as professional rugby player Paul O’Connell and Law Professor Jack Anderson from Queens University Belfast held an open discussion on Violence and Aggression in Sport. The event was part of the Contemporary Understanding of Emotions in Society (CUES) research group Conversation Series which aims to examine the role and impact of emotions in society in association with the School of Law at UL.
The Conversation examined the role and impact of violence and aggression in sport from the perspective of a player and the role that law might or might not play in its understanding and management. Speaking from the event Professor Anderson said: “The appeal of contact sports for spectators and players alike lies in the controlled aggression and physicality of the playing field. When a player oversteps the mark, the tendency has been for the players to sort it out themselves on the field with the mantra being “what happens on the field stays on the field”. And yet no area of society, not even sport, can operate outside the law. Players must be aware that acting in violent manner which is clearly outside the rules and spirit of the game, may make them liable to legal action and even criminal liability. An assault is an assault whether it occurs on the street, in the family home or on the sports field."
Paul O'Connell said that although he does not believe that there is a problem with violence in sport at the moment, the conditioning and weight training being undertaken by professional rugby players now may lead to situations that even while playing within the rules of the game players can be injured more easily. “Generally in sport a few punches might be thrown over various incidents and its generally not a problem because guys don’t do damage. But now with training and weights guys are becoming more and more powerful and someday someone’s going to do damage with a punch and the law may have to be involved.”
Directors of CUES, Dr Eimear Spain and Jennifer Schweppe explained the reason for holding the event: "By having a conversation between two experts in their fields, one an academic with a specialisation in sports law, and the other a world famous rugby player, we show the real practical impact and value of academic research. Nearly every week, stories are reported of players, referees or managers, who through their actions or words, go beyond the boundaries of what a sport will allow. The question debated this evening centred around how, or if, the law can regulate this behaviour.”
The Research Cluster CUES currently draws on members from areas as diverse as Sociology, Psychology, Medicine, English, Business, Politics, Education, Music and Law and aims to examine the impact of emotions in society through cross-disciplinary analyses of the area.
Jack Anderson joined the law school at Queen’s University Belfast as a lecturer in 2004. Previously he taught at the University of Limerick from where he was appointed a Senior Research Scholar by the Irish Research Council for Humanities & Social Sciences in 2002. His primary research interest is the relationship between sport and the law and he has published widely in the area including, most recently, Modern Sports Law (Oxford, Hart, 2010). His current research interest is in the legal issues surrounding the possible links between gambling, financial crime and corruption in sport. In 2011, aspects of the second element to this research were carried out by way of a fellowship to the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Policing and Security in Brisbane and with the support of a Leverhulme Trust Study Abroad Fellowship. He is also editing a collection entitled Landmark Cases in Sports Law (The Hague, Asser, 2012), which features contributions from 25 leading international sports law academics and practitioners. Jack contributes regularly to the media in Britain and Ireland on sports law matters and blogs at http://blogs.qub.ac.uk/sportslaw.
Paul O’Connell has represented Ireland at Schools,U21, A and Senior level. At senior level he has played 85 times for his country. He scored a try on his senior international debut v Wales in 2002. O’Connell’s six-try tally for his country includes the last ever Test try scored at the old Lansdowne Road. A product of Ard Scoil Rís and Young Munster RFC, he made his league and Heineken Cup debuts for Munster in 2001 and is approaching 140 caps for Munster in total. He captained Munster when they won their second Heineken Cup title in 2008 and was captain when they won the Magners League trophy in '09 and '11. Paul O’Connell played three Tests for the Lions in New Zealand in 2005 and in summer '09 captained the squad in South Africa.