Two more retired players have this week publicly added their names to the concussion lawsuit that has been filed against the game’s governing bodies, World Rugby along with the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union. Former Wales U20s centre Adam Hughes and former England U20s back row Neil Spence are among six new additions to the legal action. Here, the PA news agency publishes their testimony:

ADVERTISEMENT

Adam Hughes, 30, Dragons and Exeter Chiefs

“I ended my career at 28 following a particularly bad concussion. It was just one head knock too many. It snowballed really, at first it was the bigger concussions where I was completely knocked out that took me ages to recover from and then over the time even the smaller ones started to have an impact. I had about eight complete knock-outs in my career, the worst one was during a pre-season game in 2016 where it took me six months to recover.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer
What happens inside the brain during a concussion?

“Of course, I know people will say that I knew what the risks were. Yes, I did, but that misses the point completely. If there were opportunities to make the game safer, and I believe there were, then it was incumbent on those with power to do so. The game still has a very long way to go in terms of education about concussion.

“I’m not yet suffering in the way that some of the older rugby players are, but I am still adapting what I do in everyday life to make sure I do not trigger the symptoms, and I am still learning where my limits are. I had to completely build up my threshold to exercise from scratch, and this is an ongoing battle for me. If I push those limits too far, then the rest of the day will be spent in a dark room feeling sick.”

Neil Spence, 44, Leicester, Gloucester and Rotherham
“If I am frank about it, I’ve lost count of the number of concussions and head injuries I have had through my career. In fact, I used to judge how well I had played based on how fuzzy-headed I felt at the end of a game. I have been told by people that when I played, I’d put my head where some people wouldn’t even put their feet on a daily basis! Total madness.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I first started to take note of my symptoms back in 2012 after a nasty bang on the head during a game which left me with a constant headache. My GP sent me for a CT scan, but there was no abnormality. She also put me on anti-depressants and beta-blockers to help with the anxiety that I was feeling.

“2014 was a bad year. I was suffering terribly with mood swings, anxiety attacks, depression and anger issues. I felt like my head was going to explode. I would feel angry and frustrated at even the smallest obstacles. My fiancé Sarah often says that I have lost my fun side. I used to be the life and soul of the party, but I feel that side of me is lost forever.

“Sarah will regularly find items in odd places in the house, I might put something meant for the fridge in the dishwasher and vice-versa. I also am prone to violent verbal outbursts and regularly forget what I am talking about. My speech has become slurred at times and Sarah and the kids complain I mumble and will sometimes stop speaking mid-sentence.

“The pressure of my personality changes grew too much for us during the lockdown. Sarah works for the NHS, while I was at home doing home-schooling for my son Zac, aged 11, and nine-year-old daughter, Millie.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I was at breaking point and moved out for two months, but we’re back together now fighting this diagnosis together. I still love the game of rugby, but if I had known I would have ended up feeling like this, I may not have played at all.”

Mailing List

Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.

Sign Up Now