Rugby player 'bit piece of opponent's ear off'

Mark Unsworth. Pic: Irving of Exeter
Image caption Mark Unsworth claimed a clashing of heads caused the ear damage

A rugby player had a piece of ear bitten off as he and another man grappled in a collapsed scrum, a jury has heard.

The pair were in a heap of players during the match between Sidmouth and Bristol's Avonmouth Old Boys in 2010.

Sidmouth prop Mark Unsworth crawled up the body of Avonmouth hooker Craig Britton and bit his right ear, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Mr Unsworth, 38, of Newton Poppleford in Devon, denies unlawful wounding.

The alleged attack happened after a scrum collapsed for a third time during the South West One league game on 23 October 2010.

Mr Unsworth, of Back Lane, told police the injury was caused by an accidental clash of heads, not a bite.

'Not seen since'

There had been no incidents between the two earlier in the match, the court heard.

Prosecuting, Gareth Evans, said it was "quite clear there was not a clash of heads or stamping from someone else".

He said: "Unsworth crawled up his body until he reached the right ear and then bit down on it with such force he severed the skin.

"He severed the cartilage and detached part of the rim and partially detached it."

The piece of ear allegedly bitten off had not been seen since, Mr Evans added.

After the incident, which the referee did not see, the two men had to be kept apart, the court heard.

Mr Evans disputed Mr Unsworth's claims of a head clash, telling the jury medical evidence showed the ear had been bitten rather than ripped off.

The trial continues.

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