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Published: 11:56, December 02, 2023 | Updated: 16:59, December 02, 2023
Nearly 300 England ex-rugby players suing over concussion
By Reuters
Published:11:56, December 02, 2023 Updated:16:59, December 02, 2023 By Reuters

England players (from left) Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio, with a Cross of St. George, Neil Back and Steve Thompson celebrate after beating Australia 20-17 in the final of the Rugby World Cup in Sydney, Australia, Nov 22, 2003. (PHOTO / AP)

LONDON - Mark Regan and Phil Vickery, members of England's 2003 World Cup-winning team, and former Wales and British and Irish Lions center Gavin Henson are among nearly 300 former rugby players suing three governing bodies over neurological injuries, it was revealed on Friday.

The case at London's High Court involves 295 former rugby union players suing World Rugby, England's Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union for allegedly failing to put in place reasonable measures to protect the health and safety of players.

Fellow World Cup winner Steve Thompson and former Wales captain Ryan Jones had already been named as being part of the case, which also involves former Wales and Lions forward Colin Charvis and Sean Lamont, who won over 100 caps for Scotland.

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The claimants range in age from 80 to 22-years-old, according to the list provided by law firm Rylands Garth on Friday.

The list was released after a judge ruled the former players must wait until next year for their application for a group litigation order (GLO) – which would mean the individual lawsuits can be managed together – to be determined.

England's Jonny Wilkinson (center) is tackled by Australia's Stirling Mortlock (right) during the final of the Rugby World Cup in Sydney, Australia, Nov 22, 2003. (PHOTO / AP)

The claimants' lawyer Susan Rodway earlier said in court filings that the defendants "ought to have known of the likelihood of long-term neurological complications due to cumulative concussive or sub-concussive blows to the head"

Judge Jeremy Cook also said there was currently a "gaping hole" in the evidence provided by the claimants.

World Rugby, the WRU and the RFU said in a joint statement after Friday's hearing: "Whilst today's case management hearing was necessarily about legal process, we must not forget about the people and players at the heart of this case.

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"Legal action prevents us reaching out to support the players involved, many of whom are named publicly for the first time today.

"But we want them to know that we care deeply about their struggles, that we are listening and that they are members of the rugby family."

The statement added: "Player welfare is rugby’s top priority and will continue to be our top priority. Rugby is committed to leading the welfare agenda in sport, driven by evolving science and research to protect and support players at all levels."

The claimants' lawyer Susan Rodway earlier said in court filings that the defendants "ought to have known of the likelihood of long-term neurological complications due to cumulative concussive or sub-concussive blows to the head".

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This alleged failure is said to have caused disorders such as motor neuron disease, early onset dementia, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, epilepsy and Parkinson's disease.

She added that some of the individual cases, where players are suing for loss of earnings and the cost of future care, could be valued "well into the tens of millions" of pounds.

The rugby union case is one of three similar cases brought by Rylands Garth, which also represents former rugby league and soccer players.

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