Rugby union and dementia: is the sport facing a crisis?Health, Sport|06:15
Steve Thompson, who won the Rugby World Cup with England in 2003, former Wales back-rower Alix Popham and nine other ex-internationals – all under the age of 43 – have launched what could be a landmark legal action against World Rugby, the RFU in England and the Welsh Rugby Union after being diagnosed with early onset dementia. In revealing and at times harrowing interviews with the Guardian, both Thompson and Popham speak of the challenges they have faced, struggling to remember playing on the world stage and what changes they want to see brought in to the game, as senior reporter Andy Bull examines the links between rugby and dementia. At the last count, in 2014, there were 1,339 people in the UK from the player's age demographic who had been diagnosed with the condition – or one in every 9,500 - presenting a sobering contrast with these latest cases from the sport. A spokesperson for the game's governing body said: 'World Rugby takes player safety very seriously and implements injury-prevention, management and education strategies based on the latest available knowledge, research and evidence.'