World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union have issued a joint statement following the Thursday morning delivery of a pre-action letter of claim from Rylands Law on behalf of players, including retired England hooker Steve Thompson – who are taking a concussion lawsuit against the game. 

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The basis of the claim made on behalf of the nine test cases – Rylands Law say they are talking to over 130 more retired players – is that the sport’s governing bodies failed to provide sufficient protection from the risks caused by concussion.

Rylands Law alleges that the risks of concussions and sub-concussive injuries were “known and foreseeable” and lists 24 failures on the part of World Rugby, RFU and WRU.

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How rugby players feel about the effects of concussion

That concussion case letter, which referenced former England forwards Thompson and Michael Lipman, former Wales flanker Alix Popham, ex-Wales U20s centre Adam Hughes and ex-England U21s back row Neil Spence. has now promoted a joint response from the sport’s global governing body and the unions in England and Wales.

Their statement read: “World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union can confirm they have received a letter of claim from solicitors representing certain players and will now take time to consider its contents.

“We have been deeply saddened to hear the brave personal accounts from former players. Rugby is a contact sport and while there is an element of risk to playing any sport, rugby takes player welfare extremely seriously and it continues to be our number one priority.

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“As a result of scientific knowledge improving, rugby has developed its approach to concussion surveillance, education, management and prevention across the whole game.

“We have implemented coach, referee and player education and best practice protocols across the game and rugby’s approach to head injury assessments and concussion protocols has been recognised and led to many other team sports adopting our guidance.

“We will continue to use medical evidence and research to keep evolving our approach. As with any potential legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate to comment on the specifics of the letter.”

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