On a recent episode of The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills, the cast was going through their “old yearbooks” and one ex-friend turned out to be a mystery. In the photo, she stood beside her husband as they posed with two other women who would become part of his cheating ring. What’s an old school image from your own highschool days that still sticks in your mind?
Michael Edwards, a rugby league player, says he feels “thrown aside like an unwanted, broken toy.”
Ten former rugby league players, including ex-Great Britain scrum-half Bobbie Goulding, are alleging brain injury as a result of their participation in the sport.
The athletes, according to their attorneys, are all suffering from “neurological problems.”
They are currently preparing a legal lawsuit for negligence against the Rugby Football League.
Rugby union players, notably England’s World Cup champion Steve Thompson, have taken similar action.
Goulding, who was recently diagnosed with early-onset dementia, said that players who had suffered brain traumas lacked enough protection.
The 49-year-old, who captained St Helens to the Super League and Challenge Cup double in 1996, claimed he had returned to play within days after being knocked out at least three times throughout his career.
Former Wales international Michael Edwards, 48, and Scotland internationals Jason Roach, 50, and Ryan MacDonald, 43, are among the ten players involved in the legal case, all of whom are under the age of 60. Early-onset dementia has been detected in all three of them.
Richard Boardman, their lawyer, claimed he was representing a total of 50 former professional rugby league players in their 20s to 50s, all of whom are suffering from neurological issues.
In a second action, he is representing 175 former rugby union players, including Thompson.
According to Boardman, the legal suit was not just about monetary compensation, but also about making the game safer and being examined and diagnosed so that immediate clinical help could be provided.
He claimed that hundreds of former rugby league players were experiencing different neurological difficulties in their 40s and 50s, including early-onset dementia, CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and motor neuron disease.
“The great majority of the former players we represent are passionate about the game and do not want to see it hurt in any way,” Boardman added.
“They just want to make it safer for current and future generations to avoid ending up in the same situation as them. We’re urging the RFL to adopt a number of urgent, low-cost measures to rescue the sport, such as restricting contact in training and lengthening the time between concussions and return to play.”
Given the considerable danger of severe or irreversible brain damage caused by concussions, the former players claim the RFL owed them a responsibility to take reasonable care for their safety as individual professional players.
The RFL should have defined and enforced standards on the examination, diagnosis, and treatment of actual or suspected concussions, according to Boardman.
“The Rugby Football League has recently been approached by attorneys representing a number of former players,” the RFL stated in a statement.
“The RFL is highly concerned about player safety and welfare and has been dismayed to learn of some of the former players’ troubles.
“Rugby league is a contact sport, and although playing any sport entails some risk, the safety of the players is always important.
“The sport of rugby league continues to enhance and evolve its approach to concussion, brain injury evaluation, education, management, and prevention across the board as a consequence of scientific understanding. We’ll keep using medical evidence and research to support and improve our strategy.”
‘After knockout, I didn’t have a single doctor check on me.’
As captain of St Helens in 1996, Goulding won both the Super League and the Challenge Cup.
Goulding earned 17 caps for Great Britain and played for clubs such as Wigan, Leeds, Widnes, and St Helens. He represented England five times, including in the 1995 World Cup final, and was chosen to the Super League team of the year the following year.
He has talked about his problems with alcohol and drug addiction since retiring, first in 2005 and again nine years later following a short return with the Barrow Raiders.
“For something like this to come out of the blue, and strike me like a bus, is hard to accept,” Goulding said of his dementia diagnosis.
“I didn’t think about dementia at all; I simply accepted it as a part of life.”
“On at least three instances, I came within days of being knocked out.” I recall playing for Leigh at Huddersfield on a Sunday at the conclusion of my career [in 2002].
“After being critically knocked out on Sunday night, I was admitted to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and played the following Saturday against Batley. During that week, I didn’t have a single doctor check on me.”
What is CTE and how can you tell if you have it?
Many of the former rugby league players involved in the lawsuit have been diagnosed with early-onset dementia and CTE.
CTE is a condition that was diagnosed in American football player Mike Webster by Dr. Bennet Omalu and is the subject of the Will Smith film Concussion. In 2011, a number of former American football players filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL, which resulted in a $1 billion (£700 million) settlement.
When the brain is hit repeatedly with little blows or quick movements – known as sub-concussions – CTE develops, and it’s linked to symptoms including memory loss, depression, and progressive dementia.
Only after death can the condition be identified in the brain.
It’s been discovered in the brains of scores of former NFL players and a few dead footballers, notably former West Bromwich Albion and England striker Jeff Astle. In 2014, a re-examination of his brain revealed that he died from CTE.
Over the last several years, the problem of concussion in sports has gotten a lot of attention, and the correlations between heading a football and degenerative brain illness have even pushed regulation modifications at the young level.
In England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, children under the age of 11 are no longer permitted to head a ball in training, and there are additional restrictions on the frequency with which they may do so in higher age groups.
Following the death of England World Cup winner Nobby Stiles a year ago, and news that his 1966 team-mate and Manchester United star Sir Bobby Charlton is now suffering from the condition, former pros have urged for more study and improved player care.
Here you can find more information on dementia as well as contact information for organizations that may assist you.