The issue of concussions in rugby is taking on a new dimension in the UK. Thursday, January 19, the London law firm Rylands Garth announced that fifty former players have seized World Rugby, the international federation, as well as the English and Welsh authorities in anticipation of a possible trial. They feel that these federations have not done enough to protect them from concussions. And intend to obtain damages for themselves and their families as well as to try to make rugby less dangerous in the future.
This group includes several retired former internationals, elite players who played rugby until he became a professional in 1995, players who played in the youth categories and the family of a player who died following a chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
According to Richard Boardman of Rylands Garth, “No matter what level of game you have played or play, whether in school or as an adult, as a professional or amateur, male or female, we unfortunately see the same alarming neurological impairments at all levels of the game” . For the British lawyer, it is“a matter of life or death for many”.
The firm Rylands Garth, which took up this subject, already represents more than 275 former professional sportsmen suffering from concussions. Among them are Englishman Steve Thompson, former hooker for Brive, winner of the 2003 Rugby World Cup with the XV de la Rose, who said he suffers from dementia praecox, and Ryan Jones, former captain of the country of Wales. In September 2021, in an interview with the BBC, Steve Thompson announced his choice to bequeath his brain to science after his death to promote research on the subject.
According to a study published in October by the University of Glasgow, former rugby internationals are two and a half times more likely than the general population to develop neurodegenerative diseases. In an open letter published on Wednesday January 18, the English Bill Beaumont, president of World Rugby, announced that the year 2023 would be “marked by independent and peer-reviewed research around [d’]studies on smart mouthguards”. According to Mr. Beaumont “These data will help to better understand the game (…) and serve as the basis for further advances in laws [du jeu]protocols and guidelines for wellness” players.
Thursday, January 19, the English federation also announced that tackles above the waist will no longer be authorized in school and university rugby from July. “Findings from our own research and those around the world show that lowering the level of tackle reduces exposure to head impact and reduces the risk of concussions”explained the president of the RFU, Nigel Gillingham.