Over 200 Former Rugby Players Take Legal Action Against Governing Bodies Over Brain Injuries

Gavin Henson and Phil Vickery Among Those Suing World Rugby, RFU, and WRU

London, UK – More than 200 former rugby players are taking legal action against World Rugby, England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU), and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) over allegations that the governing bodies failed to protect them from neurological injuries sustained while playing the sport.

The claimants allege that the governing bodies failed to put in place reasonable measures to protect the health and safety of players, despite knowing of the risks of long-term neurological complications from concussions and sub-concussive blows to the head.

The lawsuit is being brought by Rylands Garth, a law firm that also represents former rugby league and soccer players who have suffered similar injuries. The firm has applied for a group litigation order (GLO), which would allow the individual lawsuits to be managed together.

The news comes after London’s High Court ruled that the players must wait until next year for their GLO application to be decided.

Notable Players Taking Legal Action

Among the 226 former players taking legal action are several high-profile names, including:

  • England World Cup winners Phil Vickery, Steve Thompson, and Mark Regan
  • Former Wales fly-half Gavin Henson
  • Former Wales captain Ryan Jones
  • Former Wales and Lions forward Colin Charvis
  • Scotland centurion Sean Lamont

Alleged Failure to Protect Players

The claimants’ lawyer, Susan Rodway, said in court filings that the defendants “ought to have known of the likelihood of long-term neurological complications due to cumulative concussive or sub-concussive blows to the head.”

She added that some of the individual cases, where players are suing for loss of earnings and the cost of future care, could be valued “well into the tens of millions” of pounds.

Response from Governing Bodies

World Rugby, the RFU, and WRU did not address the merits of the lawsuits at Friday’s hearing, but are defending the claims.

In a joint statement earlier this week, they said that they were unable to comment on the case or contact players, as they had yet to receive full details of the claims.

“We would want players involved to know that we listen, we care and continue to champion player welfare as the sport’s number one priority,” they said.

“Players and parents can have confidence that rugby is as safe as a contact sport can be. Rugby will always be led by the latest science when taking any action on player welfare.”


The rugby union case is one of three similar cases brought by Rylands Garth, which also represents former rugby league and soccer players. The full list of players taking legal action is available above.

The outcome of the lawsuits could have significant implications for the future of rugby and other contact sports.