A group of former England, Wales and Scotland international rugby league players are to sue the Rugby Football League (RFL), alleging a failure to protect them from the risks caused by head injuries.
- The players allege the RFL owed them “a duty to take reasonable care for their safety”
- Retired Great Britain international Bobbie Goulding was diagnosed with early-onset dementia this month
- The effect of concussion is a growing concern in the NRL
Retired Great Britain and England halfback Bobbie Goulding, ex-Wales winger Michael Edwards and former Scotland fullback Jason Roach are part of a test group of 10 former rugby league players — all under the age of 60 — bringing the legal action.
They allege the RFL owed them “a duty to take reasonable care for their safety by establishing and implementing rules in respect of the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of actual or suspected concussive and sub-concussive injuries”.
The RFL is professional rugby league’s governing body in England and the NRL is expected to monitor developments in the class action, given the growing concern about concussion in contact sports in Australia.
In April, the RFL launched a pilot for a research project into quantifying the risk of head impact with the aim of increasing understanding and reducing future risk.
Its chief regulatory officer, Karen Moorhouse, said the “wellbeing of players is a top priority of the RFL and clubs”.
Goulding — who spent most of his 17-year career playing in England’s Super League — was diagnosed with early-onset dementia this month.
“For something like this to come out of the blue and hit me like a bus is hard to take,” said the 49-year-old, who also had issues with alcohol and drug addiction.
The former players’ lawyer, Richard Boardman of London-based law firm Rylands, is also representing another 50 former rugby league players who are showing symptoms associated with neurological complications.
Mr Boardman said the former players were taking legal action to make the sport safer.
“The vast majority of the former players we represent love the game and don’t want to see it harmed in any way,” he said.
“They just want to make it safer so current and future generations don’t end up like them.”