Phil Vickery and Gavin Henson are among a group of rugby players involved in a lawsuit regarding brain injuries.
Phil Vickery, Mark Regan, and Gavin Henson, all members of England and Wales’ rugby teams, are part of a group of 295 players who are suing World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union, and the Wales Rugby Union due to symptoms of brain injury. This information has recently been made public.
The names of all three players were included in a new list of 226 names that was released on Friday evening. This came after their lawyers requested for the high court in London to lift reporting restrictions on their anonymity.
This indicates that three members of England’s 2003 winning team have recently stated they are pursuing legal action due to neurological problems they attribute to playing the sport. In a 2020 interview with The Guardian, the team’s hooker, Steve Thompson, shared that he has early-onset dementia and cannot recall their World Cup victory.
Harry Ellis, a former scrum-half from England, and Colin Charvis, a former captain from Wales, are two well-known individuals listed among 295 players. This list also includes several other notable international and club players from the early 2000s. The players are pursuing damages and claim that World Rugby, the RFU, and WRU were negligent by not implementing reasonable measures to ensure their health and safety.
All three governing bodies firmly deny this claim and have criticized the players’ solicitors for holding back medical records and causing delays in the case.
After a court session on Friday, the majority of the 295 names were made public. The players’ lawyers had requested a group litigation order (GLO) to combine the legal action, but the request was denied. Jeremy David Cook, the senior master overseeing the case, expressed potential willingness to grant the order in the future, but stated that it was not feasible without access to thorough medical records of all 295 players.
Cook showed his dissatisfaction with the legal representatives of the players, stating, “If the medical records are not properly prepared, there will be significant problems. In a case like this, medical records are an absolute necessity.”
Cook clarified that keeping such records was essential in order for both parties to fairly select a smaller number of cases that would represent all 295 players when the case was eventually heard in its entirety. He also rejected the idea proposed by the claimants’ KC, Susan Rodway, that brief summaries would be enough.
“In a personal injury case, the initial step is to request a valid medical report to confirm the individual’s medical background,” Cook stated in court. “The process must be impartial and just. When presenting a report on the individual’s condition and prognosis, it is necessary to provide their medical history. This is a fundamental aspect. Without a clear link between the injury and the cause, there can be no liability.”
Cook encouraged both parties to collaborate in resolving any obstacles before the upcoming hearing, scheduled for late April or early May. He pointed out that they were currently missing opportunities to communicate and make progress, comparing their situation to ships passing in the night. He warned that if there was no improvement, they would continue to be stuck in a futile cycle on the computer.
Following the release of the list of 226 individuals, World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union (RFU), and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) released a statement conveying their condolences to the players. However, they also expressed frustration with yet another postponement in the case.
“Although the case management hearing today focused on legal procedures, we must not lose sight of the individuals and players involved in this case,” the statement stated. “Due to legal proceedings, we are unable to directly reach out and offer support to the named players, who are now publicly identified for the first time. However, we want them to know that we are deeply concerned about their challenges, and as part of the rugby community, we are here to listen and support them.”
The court’s decision to require the claimants’ attorneys to provide previously requested information for a second time is a positive development. However, the delay in the case is unfortunate, and the fact that the players’ lawyers appear to prioritize media coverage over meeting their legal responsibilities is a difficult situation for all involved, especially the players. The statement also emphasized that the governing bodies prioritize player welfare as the top concern in the sport of rugby. It further stated that rugby is dedicated to being a leader in promoting player welfare, utilizing the latest scientific and research advancements to protect and support players at all levels.