Ten Former Rugby Players Set To Sue League Over Brain Damage Claims

by : Emily Brown on : 27 Oct 2021 12:20
Ten Former Rugby Players Set To Sue League Over Brain Damage Claims@bobbieg777/Instagram/@5news/YouTube

Ten former rugby players are planning to sue the Rugby Football League (RFL) for alleged negligence during their playing careers, which failed to protect them from the risks of concussion. 

Richard Boardman of Rylands Law is representing the test group of 10 ex-professionals, though more widely he is acting on behalf of a group of more than 50 players ranging from their 20s to their 50s, many of who are showing symptoms associated with neurological complications such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s Disease.


Bobbie Goulding, Paul Highton and Jason Roach are three of the former players to make up the group of 10, having all been diagnosed with early-onset dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive brain condition thought to be caused by repeated blows to the head.

Bobbie Goulding (Alamy)Alamy

In a letter being sent to the RFL, cited by The Telegraph, the players allege the governing body ‘owed them, as individual professional players, a duty to take reasonable care for their safety by establishing and implementing rules in respect of the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of actual or suspected concussive and sub-concussive injuries’.

Roach, who is 50 years old, was diagnosed earlier this month but has been experiencing issues since his late 30s, when he began to repeat himself.


He commented:

I used to be sociable, outgoing, Jack the Lad, funny, life and soul of the party. I would go out on my own, I’d be one of the lads, probably the alpha male in a bunch of alpha males. I was the alpha alpha male. I’ve now gone to not wanting to do anything, frightened of situations. I now start doing things and when I come to an outcome, I don’t know how I got there.

Boardman has noted that many of the players he is representing ‘love the game and don’t want to see it harmed in any way’, rather they ‘just want to make it safer so current and future generations don’t end up like them’.

Jason Roach (Alamy)Alamy

He commented, ‘Younger players such as Stevie Ward and Sam Burgess have recently spoken publicly about their own brain damage, so these issues aren’t restricted to older generations. This is why we’re asking the RFL to make a number of immediate, relatively low-cost changes to save the sport, such as limiting contact in training and extending the return to play (following a concussion).’

In response to the accusations, an RFL spokesperson said:

The RFL takes player safety and welfare extremely seriously and has been saddened to hear about some of the former players’ difficulties. Rugby league is a contact sport and while there is an element of risk to playing any sport, player welfare is always of paramount importance.

As a result of scientific knowledge, the sport of rugby league continues to improve and develop its approach to concussion, head injury assessment, education, management and prevention.

Rylands Law has also launched an action on behalf of ex-rugby union players against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union.


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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University and went on to contribute to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming Senior Journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news, trending stories and longer form features.

Topics: News, Now, Rugby, Sport


The Telegraph
  1. The Telegraph

    'Robbed of our memories': Ten former rugby league players to sue RFL over concussions