An undisclosed number of former players are suing the Irish Rugby Football Union for serious brain damage suffered during their playing career.
The Irish Times reports that proceedings are expected to start before October, with the case brought by Dublin-based lawyers Maguire McClaffey LLP, who specialize in litigation and personal injury law.
Manus McClafferty, a senior partner at the firm, confirmed Irish players are involved but did not say how many.
“I won’t do that. It’s not wise,” he explained. “But I can tell you that the minutes are prepared and will probably be published, I believe, by the end of September. I have them ready.”
A statement to RTÉ Sport from players’ representative body Rugby Players Ireland said it was aware of the reports but refrained from commenting on an ongoing matter.
“While we are unable to comment on a legal matter, brain health remains a priority for the players association,” CEO Simon Keogh said.
In a statement this afternoon, the IRFU said: “Everyone in rugby has been moved by the personal testimonies of former players reported in the media.
“Player welfare is of paramount importance to IRFU and we are constantly reviewing safety protocols for all players.
“Our approach, based on scientific evidence, involves a commitment to ongoing training, monitoring and enforcement of safety protocols throughout the game, including proactively managing the game time of elite players by putting the focus on injury prevention and monitoring.
“No proceedings have been served on IRFU to date.”
The legal action against the governing body in Ireland comes alongside litigation on behalf of a group of professional and semi-professional players against World Rugby, Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union. Members of the group were diagnosed with dementia praecox and other irreversible neurological disorders.
The claimants, who include former Wales captain Ryan Jones and England hooker, 2003 World Cup winner Steve Thompson, argue that the sport’s governing bodies were negligent in failing to failed to take reasonable steps to protect players from permanent injury from repetitive concussions. concussive blows.
Jones, 41, a member of the British and Irish Lions squad on the 2005 tour of New Zealand, revealed his diagnosis of dementia praecox and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in an interview with The Sunday Times earlier this month.
He told the newspaper: “I feel like my world is falling apart.
“I’m really scared because I have three children and three stepchildren and I want to be a fantastic father.
“I’ve lived 15 years of my life as a superhero and I’m not. I don’t know what the future holds.
“I’m a product of an environment that’s driven by human process and performance. I’m not able to perform the way I could, and I just want to live a happy, healthy, normal life.
“I feel like it’s been taken away from me and there’s nothing I can do.
“I can’t train harder, I can’t play referee, I don’t know what the rules of the game are anymore.”
Former Ireland international Bernard Jackman has said a UK law firm contacted him two years ago to see if he was showing symptoms of a brain injury.
“Fortunately not,” revealed the RTÉ expert. But he said every time he hears about the injuries, he “senses” what some players’ futures might look like.
“I felt we didn’t take it seriously. Sometimes you could play with just a concussion.”
He said that while in recent years there have been significant efforts to educate players about the dangerousness of concussions and to make restrictions stricter, there is still room for improvement.
“We’re seeing high profile incidents where concussed players aren’t leaving the field fast enough and possibly having a second impact. That’s the big worry from a medical standpoint.”
Medical experts say less contact in sport would help reduce risk, saying the facts are clear that multiple hits to the head will mean a higher risk of early onset dementia.
Professor Colin Doherty, a consultant neurologist at St James’s Hospital in Dublin, thinks gamblers balance out the risks.
He said they see the benefits of playing in a sport like rugby, such as teamwork and camaraderie, and outweigh the risk factors.
Viewing the concerns as a public health issue, Doherty was scathing in his assessment of the role played by the rugby administration in implementing the changes.
“There are ways to make these sports safer. We need to have a framework that takes public health concerns into account, and when are we going to do that?
“What is the public health response to this? Where is the multi-level, multi-regional social justice response to this taking it out of the hands of World Rugby?
“It’s complete nonsense that the people tasked with fixing this are the ones who stand to lose the most if the game is disbanded or significantly altered.”
Additional Report AP