England legend Steve Thompson and seven other former players claim the sport has left them with permanent brain damage
The 42-year-old, who won the Rugby World Cup with England in 2003, revealed he has been diagnosed with early onset dementia and is joining a group of former players in a potentially landmark legal action for the sport.
“You see us lifting the World Cup and I can see me there jumping around. But I can’t remember it,” Thompson said.
“I’d rather have just had a normal life. I’m just normal. Some people go for the big lights, whereas I never wanted that.
“Would I do it again? No, I wouldn’t. I can’t remember it. I’ve got no feelings about it.”
It is understood a letter of claim, amounting to millions of pounds in damages, will be sent next week to the governing bodies for English and Welsh rugby and World Rugby – and a group class action could follow.
World Rugby has issued a statement, saying: “While not commenting on speculation, World Rugby takes player safety very seriously and implements injury-prevention strategies based on the latest available knowledge, research and evidence.”
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2003 World Cup final WAGS
15. Josh Lewsey – possibly single
Most recently known to have dated British Winter Olympic gold medalist Amy Williams in 2012 but it didn’t work out.
14. Jason Robinson – Sian Griffin
Robinson divorced first wife Amanda, with whom he has six children including; Cameron, Jemimah, Joseph and Lewis. In June 2017 he married Sian Griffin with whom he has one son, Noah.
13. Will Greenwood – Caroline Greenwood
Greenwood and his wife, Caroline, have three children. They previously had a son Freddie who died 45 minutes after his birth in 2002. He is a patron of Child Bereavement UK, a charity which supports parents who have lost a child.
12. Mike Tindall – Zara Phillips
In 2010, it was announced that Tindall was engaged to Zara Phillips, only daughter of Anne, Princess Royal and the granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II. The couple, who now have two daughters, first met during the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia.
11. Ben Cohen – Kristina Rihanoff
The winger was married to Abby Blayney in 2003, and has twin daughters with her, whom they named Harriette and Isabelle. The couple were estranged since 2014, and divorced in March 2016. In January 2016 it was announced, his former Strictly Come Dancing dance partner and now girlfriend, Kristina Rihanoff, have had their first child together, a daughter named Milena.