RETIRED England and Wales rugby union internationals are among six former players suffering from concussion-related health problems to have joined a lawsuit against the game.
This morning, a pre-action letter of claim was delivered to World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union on behalf of nine players being represented by Rylands Law.
In addition to England forwards Steve Thompson and Michael Lipman and Wales flanker Alix Popham, 30-year-old Wales Under-20 centre Adam Hughes (pictured in 2017) and 44-year-old England Under-21 back row Neil Spence have also chosen to sue.
Four of the six new claimants have asked to remain anonymous, but Metro understands they include one former England and one former Wales international.
Thompson revealed last week that he has no recollection of taking part in the 2003 World Cup triumph in Australia because of the brain injuries sustained during his career.
The basis of the claim made on behalf of the nine test cases — Rylands Law say they are talking to over 130 more retired players — is that the sport’s governing bodies failed to provide sufficient protection from the risks caused by concussion.
Hughes has been diagnosed with having brain injuries and post-concussion symptoms since his career was ended in 2018, while the remaining eight have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, early onset dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma and was previously known as punch drunk syndrome and dementia pugilistica.
Rylands Law alleges that the risks of concussions and sub-concussive injuries were ‘known and foreseeable’ and lists 24 failures on the part of World Rugby, RFU and WRU.
Richard Boardman of Rylands Law insists some of the test cases will demonstrate the potential harm caused by playing the sport no matter the position.
‘Last week’s announcement about the condition of some of rugby’s sporting greats has sent shockwaves around the sport. Yet, for many, it was inevitable,’ Boardman said.
‘I think what will surprise people when they see the test cases is the age of the players, but also the positions in which they played.
‘You don’t have to be a bruising forward in the middle of the scrum to suffer concussive injuries.’
Rugby’s governing bodies later issued a joint statement after receiving the letter.
‘World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union can confirm they have received a letter of claim from solicitors representing certain players and will now take time to consider its contents,’ the statement read.
The statement continued: ‘We have been deeply saddened to hear the brave personal accounts from former players.
‘We will continue to use medical evidence and research to keep evolving our approach.
‘As with any potential legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate to comment on the specifics of the letter.’