Over 100 ex-rugby players take legal action against World Rugby over brain damage
More than 100 former rugby players are taking legal action against World Rugby and the governing bodies of England and Wales for failing to protect them from permanent injury due to repeated concussions during their playing days It is said to be the largest such class action lawsuit outside of the United States.
Former internationals Steve Thompson (England), Carl Hayman (New Zealand) and Alix Popham (Wales), and many members of the litigation group struggle with neurological conditions such as dementia praecox, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron problems and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
The group is represented by Rylands Legal, who said they are in contact with more than 185 former rugby union players. “This claim is not just about financial compensation,” Rylands Legal said in a statement, “it is also about making the game safer and ensuring that current and former players are tested so that if they suffer from brain injury, they can get the clinical help they need.
In 2013, the NFL, the National Football League in the United States, settled the lawsuits of thousands of former players who developed dementia or other concussion-related health issues. The NFL has paid out over US$800 million so far and the settlement is expected to cost it US$1 billion (100 crore). The settlement did not include an admission by the NFL that it was withholding information from players about head injuries.
In the current rugby case, the players’ allegations include the governing bodies’ failure to ‘take appropriate action as the game has turned professional to address disregard for player safety and brain health at club level and internationally”.
It is claimed that rugby authorities failed to inform players of the risk of permanent brain damage. They also allege that regular monitoring and expert medical advice was not followed.
“The gamers we represent love the game,” said Rylands Legal. “We aim to challenge current perceptions of governing bodies, reach a point where they accept the link between repeated blows to the head and permanent neurological injuries and take action to protect players and support those who are injured. .”
Last week, former Wales rugby captain Ryan Jones announced he had been diagnosed with dementia praecox and probable CTE.
Rylands Legal said it is also representing 75 rugby league players in a separate but similar potential claim against England’s Rugby Football League.