World Cup winner Steve Thompson urges rugby authorities to use his class action case to protect future players from brain diseases, with governing bodies facing multi-million pound lawsuit

  • Three major governing bodies are facing a multi-million pound lawsuit
  • World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union targeted
  • Several former players claim head traumas caused neurological impairments
  • Former Wales captain Ryan Jones is among the group looking for compensation 

World Cup winner Steve Thompson has called on rugby’s authorities to use his historic legal case to fuel action to protect players from degenerative brain diseases.

The former hooker, 44, has no recollection of winning the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003 due to early-onset dementia, and is one of 185 former players diagnosed with a brain disease suing World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union.

Thompson said of the class action, which is the largest of its kind outside the US: ‘We started with three, then there were seven, now there are nearly 200 and there are more to be tested.

England World Cup winning hooker Steve Thompson is also among the former players involved

England World Cup winning hooker Steve Thompson is also among the former players involved

‘It’s not just about trying to get money. We are trying to save the game.

‘We just want people to play rugby and be safe, or as safe as they can be, and go in there with an open mind knowing what’s going on.’

Thompson’s former England team-mate Mark Cueto expressed concern at the lawsuit, which could cost the sport’s authorities a multi-million-pound figure. Former winger Cueto said that players knew the risks.

‘Even if we now know that what was happening 10 or 15 years ago was wrong, you can’t try people on what they didn’t know at the time,’ said Cueto, who expressed sympathy with those affected. 

‘If Thommo genuinely can’t remember the World Cup final that has to be so frightening. But what doesn’t sit well with me is the blame game associated with this.

‘The medics only ever had our best interests at heart. They were the ones telling us not to play.’

The governing bodies were still waiting for action to be served yesterday, and defended their strategies to combat head injuries. They are braced for massive compensation claims for historical failings around the treatment of concussions.

The players, in their 30s, 40s and 50s, claim that repeated head traumas have caused neurological impairments such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), early onset dementia, epilepsy, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease. 

In a joint statement, World Rugby, the RFU and WRU said: ‘We care deeply about all our players, and never stand still when it comes to welfare. Our strategies to prevent, identify and manage head injuries are driven by a passion to safeguard our players and founded on the latest science, evidence and independent expert guidance.’

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones is among a group of players looking for compensation

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones is among a group of players looking for compensation

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here