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Ex-All Blacks prop Hayman joins legal action against World Rugby

(Photo by Marty Melville/Getty Images)

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Former All Blacks tighthead prop Carl Hayman has joined a legal action against World Rugby after being diagnosed with early-onset dementia at the age of 41. Hayman joins the litigation which also includes England’s 2003 World Cup-winning hooker Steve Thompson, who has said he has no memory of the part he played in that success.


The New Zealander was diagnosed after extensive testing in England. He had been suffering from constant headaches that led him into alcohol abuse and to contemplate suicide. Hayman joined the claim after spending time in England with Newcastle after his All Blacks career ended following the 2007 World Cup.

The claimants say World Rugby and the Rugby Football Union failed to protect them from the risks of concussions and sub-concussions. Hayman told Dylan Cleaver at The Bounce, an independent sports writing website: “I spent several years thinking I was going crazy. At one stage that is genuinely what I thought.

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“It was the constant headaches and all these things going on that I couldn’t understand. It would be pretty selfish of me to not speak up and talk about my experience when I could help a guy in New Zealand perhaps who doesn’t understand what is happening to him and has no support network to lean on.”

Hayman says there were times he was thrown into action when he should not have been. “Basically, if I was fit and available, I was on the field,” he said. “There were times that I probably shouldn’t have played but it was expected – like when I had a root nerve anti-inflammatory injection in my neck during the week and was back on the pitch at the weekend.

“They worked us hard and I never complained. It was my job and I was paid well, but I doubt it did any favours. I’m 41, I’ve still got a massive part of my life ahead of me and when you live with something like this it certainly makes every day a challenge. At my lowest point, my relationship with my ex-wife Natalie had broken down and I was involved in a physical incident with her that went to court.


“I don’t want to minimise the harm I did and I don’t want to make any excuses because I should never have put myself in that situation, but I have so much regret because that’s just not who I am. I’m not an angry person but I was in a deep, dark place and unfortunately I will have to carry that with me forever.”

Last week, the firm leading the action, Rylands, confirmed it was planning legal action against the Rugby Football League on behalf of former rugby league players including ex-Britain international Bobbie Goulding.


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