Former rugby league players to sue over concussion

(Photo: Jordan News)
LONDON— Fifty former rugby league players on Wednesday launched a lawsuit against England’s governing body over its alleged failure to protect them from brain damage.اضافة اعلان

The players, whose ages range between their 20s and 50s, are showing symptoms of neurological complications including early-onset dementia, motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

They claim the Rugby Football League (RFL) owed them a duty of care by establishing and implementing rules for assessing, diagnosing, and treating actual or suspected concussion and sub-concussion.

The move is the latest development highlighting the potential damage from contact sports for professional athletes.

England’s 2003 rugby union World Cup winning hooker Steve Thompson was among former players who last year sued World Rugby, England’s Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union for negligence relating to concussion.
Concern is increasing in football about the long-term impact of heading and within rugby and American football over the lasting effect of playing the high-contact sports.

CTE is a degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head and was discovered in former NFL player Mike Webster after his death in 2002.

The rugby league players’ lawyer Richard Boardman, who is also representing 175 former rugby union players in a separate lawsuit, said ex-professionals in both codes suffered from depression, memory loss, and drug addiction and had attempted suicide.

The claimants recounted losing control of bodily functions, receiving minimal treatment, and continuing to play after serious head injuries.
Former Wales international and early-onset dementia sufferer Michael Edwards, 48, told The Daily Mail that players were “treated like a piece of meat,” he said two friends killed themselves after receiving no support for depression.

Edwards also told the BBC there were “numerous occasions” of head injuries and he was often knocked unconscious.

“Rugby league at that time was very physical, a lot more physical than it is now,” he said.

“The referee used to let go quite a lot of high shots because that was part and parcel of the game.

“You played for the love of the game, you played with your heart on your shirt — we never got much money and you just wanted to do the best you could do to win the game.”

The RFL said player welfare was “always of paramount importance” and that it was “saddened” by the claimants’ ordeals.

English rugby league has adopted protocols under which players suspected of concussion are withdrawn from games and assessed for 15 minutes, with at least one doctor available to provide immediate on-field treatment.
They are also given a cognitive function test at the start of the season before engaging in contact training.

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