High Court urged to dismiss woman’s claim over alleged serious injuries from playing rugby

Plaintiff suing IRFU and Tuam RFC over injury that occurred in lineout, something which she says was not trained for

The High Court has been urged to dismiss a woman’s claim over serious injuries she says she received while playing rugby with her local club about seven years ago.

Carmel Creaven is suing the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), Tuam Rugby Football Club in Galway and a number of trustees and officers of Tuam RFC for alleged negligence and breach of duty arising out of the injury that occurred when she was in a lineout collision during a game on January 8th, 2017.

The defendants deny the claims.

The Tuam RFC and trustee defendants say that as she was a member of an association that, under established precedent, she cannot maintain an action against them as she is trying to sue herself.


They have asked the court to hold a preliminary hearing on the issue if necessary or to dismiss the case against the club and trustee defendants.

Ms Creaven’s lawyers argue it has not been established that she was a member of the club at the time of the incident in order to come within the criteria for a member not being allowed to sue him or herself. It was something that could only be determined through evidence, including oral evidence, they say.

Ms Justice Denise Brett said she hoped to give her decision this week.

Andrew Fitzpatrick, for the defendants, said it was their case that on the facts pleaded by Ms Creaven she could not maintain an action as she was injured when she was a member of a club which is an unincorporated organisation.

Counsel said Ms Creaven had pleaded that she suffered severe injury during the match between Tuam and Old Belvedere, that she had been playing for Tuam for about five years and had paid the membership fee.

She alleged the club’s liability arose after she was directed by the coach, captain and her team-mates to become involved in a lineout which was something a winger, as she was, would not normally do and for which she had not been trained, counsel said.

However, her references to the club were such that it was being described as “having some sort of independent existence”, he said. This was a misnomer because the club itself does not have a legal existence but is a group of people and she is a member of that group and is not entitled to sue herself, he said.

Eoin Carolan, for Ms Creaven, opposed the application. He said the defendants accepted that she suffered substantial and serious injuries, was unable to move for several days afterwards and still uses a crutch. She had also given up her dream of a career in the Defence Forces or gardaí and is now on disability allowance.

Counsel said the defendants also accepted that in the game she had played against Irish internationals even though she was someone who only played for social and exercise reasons.

Mr Carolan said the application before the court was brought based on what the defendants say had been pleaded by his client that she was a member of the club at the time when such an express plea was never made.

This was a matter that cannot be determined without evidence, he said. It was their case the club defendants had not remotely met the criteria laid down by previous case law dealing with membership issues.

It was also their case that where a person is part of a mutually binding common association such as a club, and by reasons of the terms of membership, they are equally vicariously liable for the wrongs alleged against a particular servant or agent of that association, he said.