RPA survey reveals number of former players are dealing with the effects of concussion


EXCLUSIVE: Rugby Players’ Association survey reveals almost HALF of 180 former players believe they have a long-term brain problem… and most would like expert help in dealing with the effects of concussion

  • England star Tom Curry insists he has ‘full confidence’ in concussion protocols
  • He was stood down for final two Tests against Australia after taking a head knock
  • But his comments come in the wake of more concerns raised by the RPA
  • Survey reveals number of ex-players are dealing with the effects of concussion

Startling figures from the Rugby Players’ Association show almost 50 per cent of 180 former professionals believe they are suffering with some form of long-term brain problem.

In a newsletter to its members, which has been seen by Sportsmail, the RPA emphasises the number of ex-players dealing with the effects of concussion following their retirement.

On Monday, England flanker Tom Curry insisted he has ‘full confidence’ in his health and gave his backing to rugby’s concussion protocols after he suffered a head knock in Australia in July.

England World Cup winning hooker Steve Thompson is also among the former players involved

But his comments come in the wake of more concerns raised by the RPA.

‘When we surveyed over 180 retired players last year on the subject of their health, whilst they generally reported their health to be good, nearly 50 per cent of respondents believed they had experienced some form of long-term cognitive issue,’ their correspondence to players read. 

‘However, whilst only 33 per cent of those experiencing such issues had sought expert help and only 14 per cent any diagnosis, over 80 per cent of those with such concerns said they would consider seeking expert help.’

Rugby’s response to concussion remains one of its biggest issues. More than 100 former players – including England’s 2003 World Cup winner Steve Thompson – are involved in a legal claim against the sport’s authorities as they battle brain problems caused by their on-field careers.

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones is among a group of players looking for compensation

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones is among a group of players looking for compensation

Thompson and former Wales back-row Alix Popham are two of several men suffering with probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy and early onset dementia.

England flanker Curry was stood down from the final two Tests of England’s successful summer tour of Australia after taking a head knock in Perth.

Curry and his England team-mates Maro Itoje and Sam Underhill all suffered concussion in action against the Wallabies. 

England flanker m Curry insisted he has ¿full confidence¿ to rugby¿s concussion protocols after he suffered a head knock in Australia in July

England flanker Tom Curry insisted he has ‘full confidence’ in rugby’s concussion protocols after he suffered a head knock in Australia in July

‘I’ve got full confidence in my long-term health,’ Curry said.

‘I’ll let the scientists take care of that. At the end of the day my job is to play rugby. That’s what I focus on and if something comes out that helps players in the long term, then brilliant.’

Curry added the fact he had been given a lengthy break by England’s medical team ‘shows the way rugby is going and the progression it’s making’ but there is undoubtedly still more that can be done.

Curry missed England’s final two Tests in Australia to return home and rest this summer. He is a part of Eddie Jones’ squad training in London this week ahead of the autumn Tests.

‘The doctors have been brilliant in terms of monitoring me,’ Curry added. ‘I was left to do my own thing, came back and got tested, and was all good. There was no holding back.’

England’s medical team place the utmost care on any of their players who suffer head injuries while the RPA also give its members access to a ‘Brain Health Hub’ and courses on brain health.

England confirmed they will play Wales home and away and also face Fiji at Twickenham next summer ahead of the 2023 World Cup.

Eddie Jones’ side – who visited Thorpe Park for a team bonding session on Monday – will also play a fourth warm-up game against an as yet unconfirmed opponent.

Premiership Rugby have confirmed Worcester’s matches with Gloucester and Harlequins have been cancelled as the Warriors remain in administration and suspended from all competitions. A panel will be convened in due course to decide the result and points allocation from the two games.

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