Former England captain Phil Vickery and ex-Wales fly-half Gavin Henson are among more than 200 retired rugby players to bring a legal claim against three of the sport’s governing bodies alleging they suffered brain injuries during their careers.
Vickery, 47, a member of England’s World Cup-winning team in 2003, and Henson, 41, who won Six Nations Grand Slams in 2005 and 2008, were named for the first time on Friday after they waved their anonymity in their claims against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union.
Mark Regan, 51, another member of England’s triumphant World Cup squad, was also named.
Lawyers for the group of players have previously alleged the governing bodies failed to take reasonable steps to protect players from injury caused by repetitive blows and that many now have permanent neurological injuries including early onset dementia, Parkinson’s disease and the neurodegenerative condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Steve Thompson, who played with Vickery and Regan, had already been revealed to be among the claimees after he was the first to go public three years ago.
Thompson, 45, who has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, has previously said he cannot remember being awarded an MBE by the Queen following England’s victory over Australia in the World Cup final.
Former Wales captain Ryan Jones, ex-Wales forward Colin Charvis, Sean Lamont, capped more than 100 times by Scotland, and former England scrum-half Harry Ellis are other high-profile names.
The former players are hoping to bring the cases together as one group action. However, it emerged at the High Court on Friday that the next hearing will not take place until April at the earliest.
A joint statement on behalf of World Rugby, WRU and RFU read: “Whilst today’s case management hearing was necessarily about legal process, we must not forget about the people and players at the heart of this case.
“Legal action prevents us reaching out to support the players involved, many of whom are named publicly for the first time today.
“But we want them to know that we care deeply about their struggles, that we are listening and that they are members of the rugby family.
“The court’s ruling for the second time that the claimants’ solicitors must provide information previously asked for is a positive step.
“Despite the court’s order from June 2023 the court noted that there was a ‘gaping hole’ in the evidence provided by the claimant’s legal team.
“The further delay to the case is regrettable and the players’ lawyers seemingly prioritising media coverage over meeting their legal obligations, is challenging for all concerned – not least the players themselves. Player welfare is rugby’s top priority, and will continue to be our top priority.”
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