STEVEN THOMPSON and seven other players are leading a legal action to sue Rugby authorities for brain damage in a lawsuit that could change the sport.
All of the claimants have been diagnosed with early-stage dementia, which they blame on repeated blows to the head during their Rugby careers. They intend to sue Rugby England, Rugby Wales, and Rugby World for negligence, in what Thompson says is an action to protect future generations of players.
The former England star says he cannot remember a single game of the 2003 World Cup, where he played each match and brought the team to victory. The 42-year-old father of four blames the full-contact sport on his permanent brain damage, saying the ‘whole point of this is to look after the young players coming through.’ He says that careers ‘can finish so quickly, and suddenly you’ve got your whole life ahead of you’.
Richard Boardman, whose law firm is leading the action, says that ‘governing bodies across the world are liable for failing to adequately protect their players’ from neurological injuries. He says his team is representing eighty former players, aged between 25 and 55, all of whom have been diagnosed with some form of brain damage.
World Rugby, the sport’s most powerful governing body, say they ‘take player safety very seriously and implements injury-prevention strategies based on the latest available knowledge, research, and evidence’. The lawsuit is the first of its kind in the history of Rugby, and if it results in millions of pounds paid in damages experts believe it could fundamentally alter how the full-contact sport is played.
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