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Law firm claims legal proceedings issued over rugby players brain injuries

14 Mar 2023 3 minute read
Photo YODspica is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Legal proceedings have been issued on behalf of 55 grassroots rugby union players who claim the game’s authorities failed to sufficiently protect them from brain injury, law firm Rylands has said.

According to Rylands, all the claimants are suffering from neurological impairments and contend that World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union have been negligent, in that they failed to protect them from concussive and sub-concussive impacts during their careers.

In a joint statement, World Rugby, the RFU and WRU said they had not been served with any court proceedings in relation to the case.

In its announcement, Rylands welcomed an initiative from World Rugby announced on Monday which recommends, subject to approval from its ruling Council, that national unions consult at community level to introduce trials lowering the tackle height.

But Rylands described the move as “too little, too late” to assist its clients or thousands of others who have played the sport.

World Rugby has recommended its unions trial “belly tackles” at the non-elite level – where the tackler engages with the ball-carrier below the sternum in a bid to reduce concussions caused by head-on-head contact.

Rylands says it is now representing more than 350 players in actions, ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s, across the two rugby codes.

“The players we represent love the game,” a statement from the firm read.

“We aim to challenge the current perceptions of the governing bodies, to reach a point where they accept the connection between repetitive blows to the head and permanent neurological injury and to take steps to protect players and support those who are injured.”


In a joint statement, World Rugby, the RFU and WRU said: “World Rugby, the RFU and WRU care deeply about all members of the rugby family and we are saddened to hear of any player, from whatever level of our sport, who is struggling.

“Whilst legal action prevents us from engaging with these players directly, it is important that players from all parts of our game know that welfare remains our number one priority.

“Rugby is a sport that supports lifelong health and wellbeing benefits for participants at every level. It is loved by millions of current and former players around the globe.

“Acting on the latest science, evidence and independent expert guidance, we constantly strive to safeguard and support all our players – future, current, and former. Rugby is a leader in the prevention, management and identification of head impacts.

“We proactively fund transformational research, embrace innovation and leave no stone unturned to ensure that our sport is accessible, inclusive and as safe as possible for all participants.

“This includes our recent announcements in relation to tackle height in the community game to continue to gather an evidence-based approach. We will never stand still when it comes to player welfare.

“We still do not have full details of the case being made against us by any former elite or amateur player and have not been served with any court proceedings in relation to the amateur players. As such it is not possible for us to comment on the legal cases at this time.”

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