Several former players in England and Wales that are presumed to be suffering the effects of brain injuries suffered while playing have reportedly been placed on a suicide watch.
The reports come from the Times, who have been in contact with former England hooker Steve Thompson’s lawyer, who is part of a case involving a large number of former players who are suing the RFU and WRU.
Thompson is currently experiencing the effects of early-onset dementia, at just 42-years-old, with his condition being linked to the concussions that he suffered while playing.
According to the Times, the number of former players on suicide watch is believed to be in the double figures, according to Thompson’s lawyer, Richard Boardman.
Boardman has been leading the case for Thompson and nine other retired players and has been contacted by roughly a further 150 ex-players since the initial news broke in December last year.
It is a number of these players whose mental health is so poor as a result of their concussion and head injury-related issues that they are believed to have been put on suicide watch.
Thompson and the original group of players are still pursuing their legal action against World Rugby, the RFU and the WRU.
The two sides are still in the pre-action phase, and the 150 former players that contacted Boardman have been unable to move their cases on during the recent COVID-hit months.
However, they are now in a position to go to the next stage and will all have brain scans and psychological assessments during the summer.
They will be tested for early-onset dementia and motor neurone disease at the most severe end of the scale, to short-term post-concussion syndrome at the milder end.
Former front row players, and forwards in general, are reportedly the worst affected by these types of injuries, according to Boardman.
“We firmly believe that we have 50 of them with dementia. These are all retired players who are under 50 years old,” Boardman said.
Boardman has the psychological assessment of one player, a former international prop, which the expert neurologist said was “a shocking profile” that is only usually seen in “severe traumatic brain injury cases”.
Thompson is the most high-profile player in the initial group who started the legal cases against rugby’s governing bodies.
He is joined in it by Alix Popham, the former Wales backrow, and Michael Lipman, another flanker who played 10 times for England.
Team of Us. Everyone In.
Vodafone. The main sponsor of the Irish Rugby Team