LONDON (AP) – More than 100 former rugby players are taking legal action against World Rugby and the national governing bodies of England and Wales over what they say are persistent injuries caused by repeated concussions during their careers. Failed to protect from injury.
Many of the group’s players, including former internationals Steve Thompson (England), Carl Heyman (New Zealand) and Alex Popham (Wales), suffer from neurological disorders such as early-onset dementia, CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease. and motor neuron disease.
The group is represented by Rylands Legal, which says it is in contact with more than 185 former rugby union players. Of those 185, the firm says a class action is being issued on behalf of the majority, with the rest expected to take legal action soon.
“This claim is not just about financial compensation,” Rylands Legal said in a statement, “it’s about making the sport safer and getting current and former players tested so they can be clinically diagnosed if they suffer a brain injury.” can get They need help.”
World Rugby told The Associated Press it had not yet received word of any formal action being filed.
“It would be inappropriate to comment until we receive and review the formal details of any potential action,” the governing body said.
England’s Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union have yet to comment.
Rylands Legal said it is the largest class action of its kind outside the United States.
In 2013, the NFL settled lawsuits by thousands of former players who developed dementia or other concussion-related health problems they say were caused by on-field collisions that boosted the game’s popularity and profits. . The NFL has paid more than $800 million to date and is expected to cost $1 billion.
The settlement spared the league from a lawsuit over claims that it had long concealed what it knew about the connection between concussions and brain injuries. The settlement fund is designed to cover more than 20,000 retirees suffering from mental illnesses including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia. The settlement did not include an admission by the NFL that it withheld information from players about head injuries.
In the case of rugby, the allegations made by the players included a failure by the governing bodies to “take appropriate steps as the profession to respond to the neglect of the safety and mental health of players at club and international level”. It’s done.”
It is claimed that rugby bodies did not inform players of the risks of permanent brain damage or subject them to regular monitoring, and did not seek specialist medical advice about the issue.
In December 2020, a group of nine players issued a pre-action letter of claim to World Rugby, the England Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union.
“The players we represent love the game,” Rylands Legal said. “We want to challenge the current perceptions of governing bodies, to get to a point where they accept the link between repeated blows to the head and permanent neurological injury and take measures to protect athletes and support those injured. Do it.”
Last week, former Wales rugby captain Ryan Jones announced he had been diagnosed with early onset dementia and possible CTE.
Rylands Legal said it also represented 75 rugby league players as part of a separate but similar potential claim against England’s Rugby Football League.