A group of 185 former professional rugby players are expected to take rugby’s governing bodies to court after they were diagnosed with early onset dementia and other irreversible brain conditions.
The players include former Wales captain Ryan Jones and World Cup winner Steve Thompson, who has said that he feels his life is ‘falling apart’ following his diagnosis.
They claim that the governing bodies, which include World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby, were negligent. The players argue that they did not take enough action to protect them from permanent injuries caused by repeated blows to the head in the course of play.
Rugby and brain injuries
There is growing recognition of the link between contact sports and serious brain conditions such as chronic trauma encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a type of early-onset dementia which is believed to develop as a result of multiple head traumas.
A lot of the research and a number of lawsuits have happened in the United States, where a number of former American football players have found themselves facing tragic health consequences as a result of playing the sport they love. As similar cases come to light in Britain, trials to monitor brain health are underway at some rugby clubs. However, for players already affected by brain conditions, this comes too late.
What happens now?
The rugby players issued a claim against the governing bodies in 2020. This is the initial stage of a claim, in which both parties try to agree on a financial settlement (for compensation) out of court. However, a settlement was not reached. The next step is expected to start shortly. This is for the players and their law firm to issue court proceedings, meaning that the claim will go to trial.
Tom Hartigan is a specialist personal injury lawyer with over 20 years’ experience, and is based in our Salisbury team. He says:
“Rugby is a fantastic sport that’s thrilling to watch. However, it’s vital to make rugby safer for players. Sports organisations should make sure that both current players and retired players get regular check-ups to monitor their brain health so that tragic consequences like CTE can be prevented in the future.
“The brave rugby players’ court case can only serve to highlight just how important it is to increase awareness of the connection between repetitive blows to the head and permanent neurological injury. Rugby authorities and clubs from professional to grass roots level need to take steps to protect players and ensure those who are injured get the help and support they need.”
If you or a loved one has experienced a brain or head injury playing sport, you may be able to claim compensation which can go towards covering any care or adjustments you need.
Novum Law’s expert team of personal injury lawyers have many years’ experience of helping those affected by sporting injuries, and can offer our help on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis. For a free, no obligation chat, call us for free on 0800 884 0777, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our online enquiry form.