Rugby Unions Legal Battle: What’s life like after Rugby?  

Rugby Unions Legal Battle: What’s life like after Rugby?  

Groups of retired rugby players are taking the rugby union to court following devastating effects they enduring in retirement. 

Widely known across the UK, Rugby is a full-contact sport that originated in England in the first half of 19th century.  

Over the years, it’s been fantastic to see the likes of Jeremey Guscott, Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Jasin Robinson, Jonny Wilkinson all play for England in the past. It’s exciting to see the new generation, Maro Itoje, of players coming through the ranks and begin to create their legacy.   

Due to the level and intensity of the game, it’s often that players suffer many injuries that often shape the rest of their lives. In December, England Rugby World Cup winner Steve Thompson, as well as seven other former players, retired from the sport with significant and permanent brain damage. The group are in the process of starting a claim against the game’s authorities.  

Every member of the group has recently been diagnosed with early signs of dementia, and they say repeated blows to the head are to blame. Steve Thompson, 42, won the rugby world cup with England and played every minute back in 2003, however, Thompson states that he cannot remember any of the games.  

“It’s like I’m watching the game with England playing and I can see me there – but I wasn’t there, because it’s not me,” he said. “It’s just bizarre. People talk about stories, and since the World Cup I’ve talked to the lads that were there, and you pick up stories, and then you can talk about it, but it’s not me being there, it’s not me doing it, because it’s just gone.” 

 The group must prove that the rugby union governing bodies are guilty of negligence. Richard Boardman, from law firm Rylands, is leading the action.  

“We are now in a position where we believe the governing bodies across the rugby world are liable for failing to adequately protect their players on this particular issue,” he said.  

“Depending on how many people come forward, the case could be worth tens of millions, maybe even hundreds of millions. “Right now, we’re representing over 100 former players, but we expect many more to get in contact.”  

What steps have been taken? 

Degenerative brain disease prevention steps have been taken at the youth level. Children aged 11 or under are not allowed to head the ball in training, limiting the frequency of the head been involved in accidents. This rule is across England, Scotland and Nothern Ireland. At a more senior level, there has been a call for more extensive research around the area, whilst keeping the integrity of the game. 

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