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Former Wales forward Andrew Coombs diagnosed with dementia at age of 39

03 Dec 2023 3 minute read
Former Wales international Andrew Coombs (Credit: PA)

Former Wales forward Andrew Coombs has revealed he has been diagnosed with dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) at the age of 39.

Coombs is one of more than 200 retired rugby players who have brought a legal claim against three of the sport’s governing bodies alleging they suffered brain injuries during their careers.

The former Newport back-row, who won the Six Nations in 2013, issued a lengthy statement on social media.

“I’m writing to share some personal news that has deeply impacted my life and the lives of my loved ones,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Eight months ago, I was diagnosed with dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy after suffering symptoms for around four years.

“This first came to my attention whilst featuring on a live episode of Scrum V Sunday, where discussions around CTE symptoms resonated with me deeply.

“It was a challenging decision to seek medical advice. However, understanding the changes happening within me became imperative.

“The diagnosis was a heartbreaking one but it answered many questions that had been lingering in my mind and worrying me for so long.”

Former England captain Phil Vickery and ex-Wales fly-half Gavin Henson were revealed to be part of the legal case for the first time on Friday after waiving their anonymity in the claims against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union.

Lawyers for the players have previously alleged the governing bodies

failed to take reasonable steps to protect players from injury caused by

repetitive blows and that many now have permanent neurological injuries, including early onset dementia, Parkinson’s disease and CTE.

In his statement, Coombs wrote: “I do question those who were responsible for managing the health risks associated with repetitive head collisions and concussions.

“Some may not understand my decision to join the legal action and that’s OK. Unfortunately I am currently unable to share my personal experiences that led to this decision, which might have provided more clarity.

“Whilst I am devastated by my diagnosis, my spirit remains strong and, in a strange way, the diagnosis has brought relief and clarity, as it has provided answers to many of my questions.

“I’m trying to be myself as much as possible, enjoying life to the fullest, not allowing my condition to destroy my mental health.”

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