- Rugby League
Castleford player apologises for punching Santa
Castleford full-back Richard Owen has been ordered to serve 200 hours of community service after punching a man dressed as Santa Claus last Christmas.
Owen was handed a 12-month suspended sentence after getting involved in a brawl with the man in Pontefract in the early hours of Christmas Day, leaving him unconscious and with a broken jaw.
The 22-year-old, who spent most of 2011 on the sidelines with a broken leg, has issued a public apology after being the subject of internal disciplinary action from the Tigers.
"After enduring a year out from playing with my career-threatening leg injury, I went into a dark period of my life," Owen said In a statement to supporters.
"I let my family, club and all its wonderful supporters down. I am not proud of what happened and offer no excuses but just want you all to know how deeply sorry I am to each and every one of you.
"This is now the biggest test of my life and I will prove to you all how grateful I am for giving me this chance.
"Together we will strive to take Cas into the top bracket once again and my actions will hopefully see me remembered as a player for things done on the field and not off of it."
Tigers chief executive Steve Ferres vowed to stand by Owen as he bids to win back the fans. He said: "While the specific nature of the disciplinary panel's decision must remain confidential, the penalty imposed by the panel reflected how seriously this matter was treated and was consistent with its previous decisions.
"Richie has apologised for his actions and Castleford Tigers will support him whole-heartedly in his attempts to re-engage with the local community off the pitch and to show the fans the talent that we all know he has on it."