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The Guardian and Dementia: Rugby must act now, before a court can prove responsibility

In the Guardian newspaper article about rugby and dementia. The gist of the matter is: If the rugby world expects the storm to go away without taking precautions, that’s wrong, because it’s about to be engulfed by complete disaster. Actions must be taken immediately.

The most recent case reported last week is that of Ryan Jones, who retired due to a diagnosis of dementia, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the condition caused by several bumps in the head. A very common disease in rugby as in all contact sports.

“The explosion in the number and intensity of rugby collisions that he has witnessed over the past 25 years is not the result of a conspiracy of delinquent coaches and players trying to hurt each other. It is simply the logical conclusion of collision sports, which awards such a prize for speed, strength and fitness.”

A lawsuit is still pending, filed against some of the governing bodies by veteran players. Government bodies must now prepare, regardless of certifying any errors, the Guardian wrote.

The best case scenario is that the diagnoses made for potential CTE players are wrong. The brain damage they suffered cannot be denied, but are the resulting conditions degenerative? In other words, would they die for them? Only time can answer this question, but the experience of American football is discouraging.”

Dr Adam White, Executive Director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation (UK), has conducted research on the experience of families affected by CTE on both sides of the Atlantic.

“I think we’re having the same problem. I don’t think there’s any evidence or logical explanation to suggest that rugby is going to be different. We might have a little late start, as American football used to have strong connections at the age of five, but we see teenagers and people in their twenties age with chronic traumatic encephalopathy there.”

If any of these players-reported cases prove to be degenerative, then there is clearly a storm heading toward rugby in the distance. CTE patients require ongoing assistance.

“The time will surely come when only highly specialized units will be needed to house these ex-players. Rugby is deceiving itself if it thinks all of this is going away. How nice it is for the governing bodies to come forward to help the players now, rather than waiting for the court to hold them accountable.”

Rugby boards should start allocating funds to help players affected by horrific encephalopathy right now. Before it’s too late. Not everyone will be able to afford the expenses on their own.

“Treatment for dementia is very expensive and costs increase as the condition worsens. This does not make ‘player support’ an easy answer to any of the problems that seem to be attacking rugby from all sides, but it is a clear answer that must be given sooner or later.”

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