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IRFU statement: 97-word comment issued on concussion court case

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Sportsfile/Corbis/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The IRFU have issued a short statement after it emerged that three former players – two of them ex-Ireland internationals – have sued the Irish rugby governing body for damage allegedly caused to their health from concussion suffered during their respective playing careers.

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The case of David Corkery, Declan Fitzpatrick and Ben Marshall was initiated at the High Court in Dublin on Wednesday. The 49-year-old Corkery, the back-rower who played 27 times for Ireland between 1994 and 1999 and who represented Bristol in the Premiership, is taking his action against the IRFU, Munster Rugby and World Rugby.

Fitzpatrick, the 39-year-old former prop who played seven times for Ireland in 2012 and 2013, is suing the IRFU, Ulster Rugby and World Rugby. It is believed that he quit the sport after suffering six concussions in his career, four in his final three seasons.

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The second row Marshall, meanwhile, played for Leinster and Connacht between 2010 and 2017 before being forced to retire due to concussion. The 32-year-old is suing Leinster Rugby, Connacht Rugby, the IRFU and World Rugby.

All three former players are represented by Maguire McClafferty and the concussion lawsuit case has now resulted in the IRFU issuing a 97-word statement. It read: “People in rugby have been moved by the personal accounts of former players as reported in the media.

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“Player welfare is of paramount importance to the IRFU and we are constantly reviewing safety protocols for all players. Our approach, based on scientific evidence, involves a commitment to ongoing education, monitoring and application of safety protocols across the game, including proactively managing elite player game time with a focus on injury prevention and oversight. As this is a legal matter it would be inappropriate to comment on these cases directly, which will now be handled by our insurers.”

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It was February this year when Corkery, a four-game veteran of the 1995 World Cup campaign with Ireland in South Africa, explained to RugbyPass+ his anxiety over headaches and the worrying outcome of brain scans he had done. “Sleep is a struggle… Some of the results that have come back have not been great. I really worry about it, the head. When I played, I had no respect for my body. I got knocked out. I woke up and a few seconds later I was playing again. That’s not right. That shouldn’t have been the case.

“We are obliged to be careful because the brain is so delicate. It gives me shivers when I see the hits in the modern game. I got so many concussions, I lost count. I’ve suffered from depression for years. The black dog is always in the corner, ready to bark. It is a question nagging away at me all the time. Anxiety, you read about what has happened to the NFL players. My depression, is it related to those head injuries? I don’t know.”

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