A Welsh female rugby star accused of racially abusing and hitting her friend after they fell out when she did not take the knee in support of Black Lives Matter before a match, says she refused because ‘all lives matter’.
Bryonie King denies one count of racially aggravated assault after an incident with fellow rugby player Jasmine Rampton when they were students at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire in March, last year.
A jury at Gloucester Crown Court heard yesterday that Ms King left her friend in a ‘crumpled heap’ on the floor after hitting her multiple times, before calling her the N-word.
But giving evidence today, the Welsh Women’s Rugby League captain said she had not intentionally hit Ms Rampton and said while she may have swore at her, she did not racially abuse her.
Ms King, who is part of the Wales Sevens Women’s Rugby team and was called into the Welsh Rugby Union squad at the age of 15, claimed she was acting in self-defence after Ms Rampton pushed her from behind.
Bryonie King, pictured here arriving at Gloucester Crown Court today, denies racially abusing and hitting her friend
It is alleged Ms King left her friend Jasmine Rampton (pictured left with friends) in a ‘crumpled heap’ on the floor after assaulting her
The Welsh rugby star (pictured left carrying the ball during a match) claims she acted in self-defence
The incident, which happened on March 13, last year, took place when the pair fell out over ‘taking the knee’, a symbolic gesture done before sporting events to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Mandla Ndlovu, prosecuting, told a jury of ten men and two women at the opening of the trial on Wednesday that whatever their views about the Black Lives Matter movement, they should put them aside and reach a verdict based on the evidence in front of them.
Giving evidence yesterday, Ms Rampton said she was confused when finding out her friend had not taken the knee before the match, as she had done so before.
She said:’I messaged her on social media after the game and asked her why? I tried to have a discussion with her but it didn’t get anywhere,’ she said. ‘It was a pointless exercise.
‘Two days later on the Monday I went to Ms King’s room and said I wanted to talk to her face to face about it. Ms King was on the phone at the time and said she would see me shortly.
‘When she arrived, I asked her directly if there was a reason why she didn’t take the knee. Ms King stated that the Black Lives Matter movement was a thing of the past. The conversation was awkward and hostile.
Bryonie King, pictured here arriving at court, is accused of attacking Jasmine Rampton while they were students at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire
Giving evidence yesterday Jasmine Rampton (pictured here in rugby gear) said Ms King called her the N-word after hitting her
‘I was trying to make her understand my point of view, but this was not going anywhere. As the conversation continued it became more and more heated and Ms King left my room.
‘It made me feel very emotional. I decided I wanted to get some fresh air and was on my way out through the communal hall when Ms King stood in the door way, preventing me from exiting.
‘She told me to go and cry a river. I went to move her arm so I could grab the door handle. I used just enough force to move her wrist. She then punched me in the face and she told me that if I touched her again she would do more than hit me.
‘I fell to the floor and she continued punching me in the face, I believe seven or eight times. I pulled my arms into my face to protect myself. She called me all sorts of racial names including the N-word.’
The jury was told that Ms King stopped the assault when another rugby-playing student, Abileigh Priestnall, intervened and Ms Rampton was taken to hospital for treatment to swelling and a cut to her right eye.
Giving evidence in her defence today, Ms King denied this version of events and claimed she refused to take the knee because ‘I believe ‘all lives matter’ and that we shouldn’t single out a particular life, no matter who or what they are’.
She said the last thing she wanted to do was upset ‘one of my best friends’, with the pair becoming close in the two years since meeting each other at school.
‘Over the weekend in March 2021 we exchanged numerous messages on social media about the ‘knee’ situation,’ she said.
‘On the Monday morning, March 15, 2021, three of us, including Ms Rampton, went for breakfast at a local supermarket and nothing was said in relation to me not taking the knee.
‘But when we got back Ms Rampton spoke to me and asked me to come to her room. And when I turned up she had another two students in the room with her.
‘I was asked why I hadn’t taken the knee and I reiterated that all lives matter. She told me I should educate myself.
The row is alleged to have started when Ms King (pictured) refused to kneel at the start of a rugby match
Ms King (pictured here holding a Welsh Rugby shirt) says she refused to take the knee because she believes ‘all lives matter’
‘I felt as if I didn’t have the right to have my own opinion. She began to raise her voice and became angry with me.
‘I told her about a footballer who had taken a similar stance and no longer takes the knee. I feel that taking the knee has gone on for too long but people were still doing it for their own reasons.’
She said Ms Rampton ‘swore at me to leave her room’ at which point things escalated.
‘I then began making my own way back to my room and as I reached the door I got pushed from behind by Ms Rampton,’ she said.
‘It was a hard shove which made me lose my balance. I stumbled and in the process I threw out my arm and at the time I wasn’t aware that I had struck Ms Rampton in the face.
A jury at the trial, which is being heard at Gloucester Crown Court (pictured), was told by prosecutors they should put aside their thoughts about Black Lives Matter movement and decide based on the evidence
‘But having seen the photographic evidence I realise that I must have made physical contact with her. I lashed out as a method of defence.
‘Ms Rampton fell to the ground and I shouted at her telling her that does she think it okay to push me from behind. I may have sworn at her but I definitely didn’t use any derogatory words towards her.
‘When Abileigh Preistnall, another rugby-playing student, arrived on the scene, she and I went into my room, Ms Rampton went back to her room before going outside. We haven’t really spoken since.’
Ms King has pleaded not guilty to racially aggravated assault by beating of Ms Rampton on March 15, 2021, by demonstrating hostility towards her because she is part of the black community.
The trial was delayed today as the judge felt unwell, with arrangements made for the jury to return on Monday, July 25, when the case will resume.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk