mental health

Nearly 400 ex-rugby and footballers on trial for concussion

Nearly 400 ex-rugby and footballers on trial for concussion
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LONDON – The number of former rugby union, rugby league and football players taking legal action against the sport’s governing bodies for suffering brain damage during their careers has risen to almost 400, announced a British law firm on Tuesday.

London law firm Rylands Garth said on Tuesday it would formally initiate the trial on behalf of 260 rugby union players, 100 rugby league players and 15 football players, who claim authorities in their sport “have shown negligence by failing to take reasonable steps to protect players from permanent injury from repetitive and sub-concussive blows.

The latest top player to join the concussion trial is Dafydd James, a former Wales and British and Irish Lions rugby winger who was diagnosed with dementia praecox and probable CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) .

Former Manchester United defender Colin Gibson is also part of the group after being diagnosed with dementia.

Rugby stars who have already joined the class action include former internationals Steve Thompson (England) and Carl Hayman (New Zealand).

“The players we represent love the games they have played,” Rylands Garth said in a statement. “Our goal is to challenge the current perceptions of the sport’s governing bodies, to reach a point where they accept the link between repeated blows to the head and permanent neurological injuries and to take action to protect players and support those who are hurt.”

James, 47, told the BBC he had mental health issues and was trying to help others who were suffering.

“I just think knowledge is key and I think it’s important for people to practice carefully,” he said. “May the game long survive and prosper. I’m definitely not one of those people who wants to see the game disappear. It gave me so much pleasure.

Rylands Garth said a pre-action phase – where parties to the dispute are encouraged by a court to reach a speedy settlement to prevent the case from escalating and going to an often costly trial – has been launched against World Rugby, English Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union in December 2020. The same position was taken against the Rugby Football League in September 2021, as well as against the IFAB and the English and Welsh Football Associations in November 2022 .

Formal proceedings will begin once Rylands lodges the claims with the High Court on Tuesday.

The three rugby governing bodies subject to the trial have said they are awaiting full details of the allegations made against them.

“We care deeply for every member of the rugby family and have been saddened by the courageous personal testimonies of Dafydd and other former players struggling with health issues,” they said in a joint statement, adding that rugby is “the most progressive sport”. on the well-being of athletes.

In 2013, the NFL settled lawsuits — at a cost at the time of $765 million — of thousands of former players who developed dementia or other concussion-related health issues that, according to them, were caused by the on-field clashes that fueled the game’s rise in popularity and profit.

The settlement spared the league a lawsuit over allegations that it had long hidden what it knew about the link between concussions and brain damage. The settlement fund is designed to cover more than 20,000 retirees with brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia. The settlement did not include an admission by the NFL that it was hiding information from players about head injuries.

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