The plaintiffs played for different provinces, across a span of 24 years.
They were never teammates, but they share a common bond that means they will forever be bracketed together after taking proceedings against the IRFU, their respective provinces and World Rugby in the High Court this week.
This action had been well-flagged in advance, with a similar proceeding ongoing in the United Kingdom.
Until yesterday, it was unclear how many players would be taking a case. Nor was it known which players were putting their names to the suit.
The trio, David Corkery, Declan Fitzpatrick and Ben Marshall, have all spoken openly about the impact the head injuries they suffered while playing rugby have had on their lives.
Corkery is the elder statesman of the trio, a teak-tough flanker who represented Munster and Ireland with pride during the era when rugby made the transition from amateur to professionalism.
He represented Ireland 27 times and played at the Rugby World Cup. He also did a season in Bristol as the game here struggled to adapt to a world in which players were suddenly being paid.
Corkery last played professionally in 1999, and it was another seven years before Fitzpatrick came on to the scene at Ulster. He played seven times for Ireland, most notably coming off the bench for the dramatic end-game when Joe Schmidt’s side came up short against New Zealand in 2013.
Marshall – who lined out for Leinster and Connacht – has the lowest profile of the three, a player of promise who never got to fulfil his potential as injury cut his career short in 2017.
All three have spoken openly about the effects that brain injuries have had on their lives and they have been moved to take action. The case is now with the IRFU’s insurers, who will assess the risk and act accordingly.
The union is not alone in having to deal with cases of this nature. Sporting bodies across the globe have had to face up to cases pertaining to brain injuries in several sports, with the most high-profile rugby action coming in Britain, as a large group of former players issued proceedings earlier this year.
The statement released yesterday by the IRFU referenced harrowing accounts from the likes of Steve Thompson, Alix Popham and Ryan Jones – former players in England and Wales who have been diagnosed with early onset dementia.
For the game’s national governing body, there’s a realisation the publicity that surrounds an event like this will bring further questions around their handling of brain injuries.
And however this case plays out, they’ll know that the sport is under huge scrutiny from fans, parents and current players as it grapples with head injuries and concussion.
Administrators will point to the way the game has adapted its laws; the zero tolerance for head-high hits and the protocols that have been introduced during and after matches to ensure players who have suffered head injuries are removed and stood down for an appropriate period.
Sceptics wonder about the physicality of a sport in which the participants seem to be on a never-ending drive to get bigger, faster and stronger.
Just yesterday, Ireland centre Bundee Aki was suspended for eight weeks after being sent off while playing for Connacht against South African side The Stormers, in an incident which left an opponent out for between four and six months.
It was his third time in three years receiving a red card for a head-high hit and, taken in isolation, he’s an example that for all of the law-tweaks and punishments, the players and coaches are refusing to adapt.
So, while Corkery, Fitzpatrick and Marshall’s rugby careers are all spoken about in the past tense, the issue remains a live one for those playing the game.
Just last summer, the New Zealand Rugby Union had to apologise after Ireland prop Jeremy Loughman was not taken off when he was exhibiting signs of concussion.
Those running the sport believe they can evolve their way out of a crisis and it’s often said that training methods and medical standards are far better now than they were.
Attitudes are slowly changing, but in the court of public opinion these cases can cause reputational damage to a sport that still has some convincing to do when it comes to safety.