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Head injuries: Nearly 300 rugby players suing over brain damage

The number of rugby players suing the game’s authorities over head injuries is set to increase to nearly 300.

The claims against the Welsh Rugby Union, Rugby Football Union and World Rugby are that players sustained brain damage through playing the sport.

A former World Rugby adviser has said worries over player health could change the game permanently after the upcoming World Cup.

World Rugby, the WRU and the RFU said they strived to safeguard players.

Who is suing over head injuries?

When the new claims are filed, 115, or about a third, will be from Wales, including former Wales captain and British Lion Ryan Jones, and internationals Alix Popham and Lenny Woodard.

England World Cup winner Steve Thompson is also involved.

All four have been diagnosed with early onset dementia.

Lawyers for the players said claims will be lodged with the court this week.

It means the total number of rugby union and rugby league claims will be more than 450 combined.

Solicitor Richard Boardman, who is representing the players, said: “The new cohort to join the action comprises further retired amateur and professional rugby union players who played in England and/or Wales going back to the 1960s.

“We agree with certain experts who believe that up to one in two elite level rugby players will end up with some level of permanent neurological impairment from playing the game.

“There are a lot of players out there who are struggling to get by, and we are finding that they get in touch as part of a general trend of retired players becoming increasingly conscious that, whatever difficulties they are having at present, the underlying cause may be brain damage

World Rugby said it was aware of 269 legal claimants in Wales and England, made up of 203 professionals and 66 amateurs.

A series of Rugby World Cup warm-ups have taken place in anticipation of the start of the tournament in September.

Will head injury rules change?

Neuropathologist and former World Rugby adviser Prof Willie Stewart told the Associated Press: “I think this World Cup is the end of rugby as we know it.

“I think the current form of rugby union as it is played will change straight after the World Cup.”

World Rugby, the WRU and RFU said: “We never stand still when it comes to further cementing rugby as the most progressive sport on athlete welfare.

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