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Legal claim: Joint statement on behalf of World Rugby, WRU and RFU

By Liam Heagney
Former England players Mark Regan and Phil Vickery (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

World Rugby and the game’s governing bodies in Wales and England have issued a joint statement after more than 200 retired players – including 2003 England Rugby World Cup winners Steve Thompson, Phil Vickery and Mark Regan, and ex-Wales fly-half Gavin Henson – brought a legal claim alleging they suffered brain injuries during their careers.

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Vickery, Regan and Henson were named for the first time on Friday after they waved anonymity in their claims against World Rugby, the Welsh Rugby Union and the Rugby Football Union.

The group of former players also includes Welsh duo Ryan Jones and Colin Charvis, Scotland’s Sean Lamont and England’s Harry Ellis, and they hope to bring the cases together as one group action. However, it emerged at the High Court in London that the next hearing will not take place until April at the earliest.

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A joint World Rugby, RFU and WRU statement read: “Whilst today’s case management hearing was necessarily about legal process, we must not forget about the people and players at the heart of this case. Legal action prevents us reaching out to support the players involved, many of whom are named publicly for the first time today.

“But we want them to know that we care deeply about their struggles, that we are listening and that they are members of the rugby family. The court’s ruling for the second time that the claimants’ solicitors must provide information previously asked for is a positive step.

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“Despite the court’s order from June 2023, the court noted that there was a ‘gaping hole’ in the evidence provided by the claimant’s legal team. The further delay to the case is regrettable and the players’ lawyers seemingly prioritising media coverage over meeting their legal obligations is challenging for all concerned; not least the players themselves.

“Player welfare is rugby’s top priority and will continue to be our top priority. Rugby is committed to leading the welfare agenda in sport, driven by evolving science and research to protect and support players at all levels.

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“This includes world-first initiatives, such as the use of smart mouthguard technology by all elite players to facilitate in-game monitoring and treatment of concussive and sub-concussive impacts. A lower tackle height is also being trialled in the community game to ensure that the benefits of our great sport can be enjoyed by all.”

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finn 4 hours ago
Why the world needs a reverse Lions tour

I think there’s a lot of reasons this wouldn’t work, but if we’re just proposing fun things how about a “World Series” held the june/july following a world cup. The teams competing each four years would be: the current world champions The Pacific Islands The British & Irish Lions The World XV Barbarians FC to ensure all teams are fairly evenly matched, the current world champions would name their squad first; then The Pacific Islands would name next, and would be able to select any pacific qualified players not selected by the world champions, including players already “captured” by non-pacific nations who would otherwise have been eligible for selection (eg. Bundee Aki); the Lions would select next; and then The World XV and Barbarians FC would be left to fight over anyone not selected. Some people will point out that 5 teams is too many for a mid-year round robin, particularly as it would be nice to have a final as well; and they would be right! But because we’re just having fun here we’re going to innovate an entirely new format for rugby, where the round robin is played in one stadium over the course of one day, with each game lasting just 40 minutes with no half time or change of ends. The round robin decides the seedings for the knockouts, which are contested by all 5 teams in one stadium over the course of one day, according to the following schedule: Knockout Round 1: seed 5 v seed 4 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Quarter Final: winner of Round 1 v seed 3 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Semi Final: winner of Quarter Final v seed 2 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Final: winner of Semi Final v seed 1 (played as a standard 80 minute rugby match) for the round robin, teams would name a 15 man starting lineup and a 16 man bench. Substitutions during games can only be made for injuries, but any number of substitutions can be made between games. The same rules apply for the finals, except that we return to having a regular 8 man bench, and would allow substitutions as normal during the 80 minute final.

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S
Simon 7 hours ago
Is the Six Nations balance of power shifting?

There are a few issues with the article. Despite somehow getting to a RWC semi final, England are nowhere near Probable status and should be swapped with Scotland on current form. France’s failure at RWC 23 has massively hit their mindset. Psychologically, they need a reset of gigantic proportions otherwise they will revert to, Top 14 first, international rugby an afterthought again. Ireland are allowed to play the way they are by less than acceptable officiating. Make no bones about it, with Easterby coaching, Ireland cheat, they break the rules at almost every facet of the game and generally referees, influenced by the media that Ireland are somehow playing the best rugby in the world, allow them. Scrums - Porter never pushes straight and immediately turns in. The flankers lose their binds and almost latch on to the opposition props. Rucks - they always and I mean always clear out from the side and take players out beyond the ball, effectively taking them out of being ready for the next phase. Not once do green shirts enter rucks from the rear foot. Referees should be made to look at the video of the game against Wales and see that Irish backs and forwards happily enter rucks from the side to effect a clearout, thus giving them the sub 3 second ruck speed everybody dreams about. They also stand in offside positions at rucks to ‘block’ opposing players from making clear tackles allowing the ball carrier to break the gainline almost every time. They then turn and are always ahead of play and therefore enter subsequent rucks illegally. Mauls - there is always a blocker between the ball catcher and the opposition. It is subtle but it is there. Gatland still needs to break the shackles and allow his team a bit more freedom to play rugby. He no longer has a team of 16 stone plus players who batter the gainline. He has to adapt and be more thoughtful in attack. Scotland are playing well but they have the creaky defence that leaks tries.

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