EXCLUSIVE: Rugby League in the dock: 10 former players affected by brain injuries, including legend Bobbie Goulding, are suing governing body for negligence
- Bobbie Goulding is one of 10 former rugby league stars to sue the RFL for negligence
- Top 10 Stars Suffer Brain Injury, Say RFL Could Have Helped
- Goulding has been diagnosed with probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
- This is the first time that British league stars have been diagnosed with the disease.
Rugby League legend Bobbie Goulding is one of 10 former players to sue the Rugby Football League for negligence for failing to protect them from brain injuries caused by concussions. Sportsmail can reveal.
The former Great Britain scrum-half, who won four Challenge Cups and the Super League title during a stellar career with Wigan, Leeds and St Helens, was diagnosed with early-onset dementia last month at the age of 49.
Goulding has also been diagnosed with probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain disease found in many former athletes with a history of repeated head injuries. Former international rugby league players Jason Roach, Mickii Edwards and Ryan MacDonald suffer from the same disease.
Bobbie Goulding is one of 10 former rugby league players to sue RFL for negligence
Goulding says the league failed to protect them from brain injuries caused by a concussion
A 2020 study by the University of Sydney Mind and Brain Center found evidence of CTE in two unidentified former professional players, but this is the first time that British rugby league stars have been diagnosed with the disease.
The RFL has been notified of the impending legal action and proceedings are expected to begin later this year, with more claims likely to follow. The players’ attorney, Richard Boardman of Rylands Law, represents 50 other former rugby league players with suspected dementia symptoms in the process of being formally diagnosed.
“We were disappointed and, as professional players, we deserved better,” Goulding said. Sportsmail. “What happened in rugby league when I was playing would not happen in any other professional sport. He was one of the highest paid players in the Super League, but he still did not receive adequate attention. He was fond of.
Goulding says he and other players have been disappointed by the league and deserve better.
“In your playing career you accept the blows, the blows, the broken legs, the missing teeth. You expect that. What you do not expect is that 10 years after you finish it will have greater repercussions. To be honest, I feel a bit cheated. ‘
The rugby league case follows similar legal action by a group of former international rugby union players last year, including England’s World Cup winner Steve Thompson.
Nine players have sent complaint letters to World Rugby, the RFU and the Welsh Rugby Union and another 140 are considering similar action.
As in the case of the union, former rugby league players are motivated to ensure that better care is provided to later generations, as well as to obtain funding for the treatment of retired players suffering from brain damage, who they could add up to several hundred.
Younger players like Stevie Ward (middle) have spoken of the brain damage they suffered.
Younger players, such as dual-code star Sam Burgess and former Leeds captain Stevie Ward, have spoken publicly about the brain damage they’ve suffered, though they have yet to be formally diagnosed with early-onset dementia.
“The RFL takes the safety and well-being of players very seriously and has been saddened to learn of some of the difficulties of former players,” said an RFL spokesman. “Rugby league is a contact sport, and while there is an element of risk in playing any sport, the well-being of the player is always of the utmost importance.
“As a result of scientific knowledge, the sport of rugby league continues to improve and develop its approach to concussion, head injury evaluation, education, management and prevention.”