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Rugby players take legal action against World Rugby about constant brain damage injury

More than 185 former rugby union players are part of the class action suit against the association.

Abhishek Sandikar Author

Updated - 25 July 2022 4:33 pm

Rugby

Over 100 former rugby players are set to take legal action against World Rugby and the national governing bodies of England and Wales over their failure to protect the players from permanent injury caused by repeated concussions during their careers. 

This group of players includes former internationals Steve Thompson from England, New Zealand’s Carl Hayman and Welshman Alix Popham who have suffered from neurological impairments like early onset dementia, CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and motor neurone disease.

The group is represented by the UK-based law firm Rylands Legal and has addressed that they are in contact with more than 185 former rugby union players. The firm states the class action will be issued on the behalf of the majority of these 185, with the rest taking legal action soon.

“This claim isn’t just about financial compensation, it is also about making the game safer and ensuring current and former players get tested so that if they are suffering a brain injury they can get the clinical help they need”, Rylands Legal said in a statement.

In the case of rugby, the allegations by the players are surrounding the negligence of the governing bodies to “take proper steps as the game turned professional to respond to a disregard for player safety and brain health at the club and international level.”

It is claimed the rugby bodies have not apprised the players about the risks of permanent brain damage or subject them to regular tests and have not sought expert medical advice about the issue. “The players we represent love the game,” Rylands Legal said. 

The statement continued, “we aim to challenge the current perceptions of the governing bodies, to reach a point where they accept the connection between repetitive blows to the head and permanent neurological injury and to take steps to protect players and support those who are injured.”

In 2013, the National Football League had to settle lawsuits from thousands of former players who developed dementia or other concussion-related health problems which were caused by the constant on-field clashes that helped the growth of the sport in popularity and profit. The NFL had paid out more than US$800 million to date and is expected to cost it US$1 billion.

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