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Legendary Great Britain half-back Bobbie Goulding is among a group of former rugby league players who are bringing legal action against the sport’s governing body for allegedly failing to protect them from the risks of brain damage caused by concussion.
Goulding, 49, has revealed that he has been diagnosed with early onset dementia and probable CTE.
The lawyers representing Goulding and others such as former Wales prop Mickii Edwards (48) and the former Scotland internationals Jason Roach (50) and Ryan MacDonald (43), say they are aware of more than 50 former professionals – some in their twenties – who are showing symptoms of neurological issues.
There are 175 former rugby union players, including World Cup-winning hooker Steve Thompson, involved in a similar lawsuit who are also represented by Rylands Legal.
“The vast majority of the former players we represent love the game and don’t want to see it harmed in any way,” said Richard Boardman of Rylands. “They just want to make it safer so current and future generations don’t end up like them.”
Goulding says he played within days of “a serious knockout” on at least three occasions.
“For something like this to come out of the blue and hit me like a bus is hard to take,” he said. “I didn’t think about dementia at all, I just thought it was the way life was.”
In a statement to Reuters, the Rugby Football League (RFL) said: “The Rugby Football League has recently been contacted by solicitors representing a number of former players.
“Rugby League is a contact sport and while there is an element of risk to playing any sport, player welfare is always of paramount importance.
“As a result of scientific knowledge, the sport of Rugby League continues to improve and develop its approach to concussion, head injury assessment, education, management and prevention across the whole game.”