Another former England international has joined former players in a legal case against authorities over their alleged failure to protect players from the risks of concussion.
The 43-year-old Dan Scarbrough, a former international who played wing and fullback and represented England in 15s and sevens, has now linked up with a group of eight former players who have been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, and, in his case, early onset dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy – all caused, he and his doctors believe, by the blows to the head he sustained during his 15-year career in professional rugby.
The firm behind the lawsuit, Rylands Law, is now representing 150 current and former players, men and women, and nine test cases are under way.
Five of those nine went public last December; Scarbrough felt so conflicted about “coming out like this” that he has waited until now.
It wasn’t the diagnosis with which he struggled. He had known for a long time that something wasn’t right, that his memory wasn’t working the way it should.
He had already been to his local doctor to try to find out what was going on, and the initial reason he got involved in the suit was because it gave him access to specialist help he needed. “Now I’ve got a reason for what’s going on, I can accept it and try to move on,” he says.
Now head of rugby at Bradford Grammar School in northern England, he added: “One of the main drivers for this action, and for speaking out, is to help other former professionals gain access to elite level treatment and deal with injuries sustained throughout our careers, which is effectively cut off once you retire, writes AFP.
“The governing bodies have a responsibility to look after us post-retirement. Yet, prevention is better than cure.
“I knew what it was doing to my body, I just didn’t realise what it was doing to my brain. My biggest issue now is memory loss.
“I also want to ensure that there are clear measures in place to protect the game at grassroots level and continue to increase the safety of the sport, across all levels, particularly in relation to head injuries.”
The basis of the players’ claim is that the governing bodies failed to provide sufficient protection when the risks of concussions and sub-concussive injuries were “known and foreseeable”.
Discussions between the law firm representing the players and the rugby authorities concerned are ongoing.