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Brain Injury and Sports - Rugby Players Pursue Justice at High Court Hearing

In recent years, a spotlight has been placed on the risk of suffering brain injury as a result of concussions caused by contact sports.

The matter has now reached the High Court, after a landmark hearing saw more than 200 rugby players apply for a group litigation order (GLO) to combine their personal injury claims into a group action against rugby union's governing bodies.

The GLO relates to claims issued in respect of repetitive concussive and sub-concussive injuries suffered by the players, which it is alleged led to irreversible neurological impairments, including early-onset dementia, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and motor neurone disease. Damages are being pursued by the players, who assert that World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union were negligent and failed to mitigate against the risk of the injuries in question.

Following an initial case management hearing, however, the High Court ruled that the granting of a GLO would be premature at this stage. The matter is now due to be presented to the High Court again in late April or early May 2024.

The outcome of any resulting group action could have major implications for sporting bodies and players alike, with the potential to open the floodgates for similar claims.