A PROFESSIONAL rugby player who was found guilty of punching a man who had spat in his face has been granted an absolute discharge by appeal judges.

Daniel van der Merwe was originally fined £300 and ordered to pay £400 compensation after a sheriff convicted him of assaulting John Ross.

But following the decision by three judges at the Justiciary Appeal Court in Edinburgh, the Glasgow Warriors player will be left with no criminal conviction following the incident.

Judges said Mr Ross had abused the Canadian international verbally and then spat in his face and van der Merwe had responded instantly with a single punch.