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IRFU braced for legal action from former players as it reaffirms commitment to player welfare

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A lawsuit has been taken by former rugby players against World Rugby over brain damage they suffered during their careers. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

A lawsuit has been taken by former rugby players against World Rugby over brain damage they suffered during their careers. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

A lawsuit has been taken by former rugby players against World Rugby over brain damage they suffered during their careers. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The IRFU has reaffirmed its commitment to player welfare as it braces itself for legal action from a group of Irish former players who claim they suffered brain damage while playing rugby.

The union says it has not yet been notified of any pending procedures after news of the players' intention to sue emerged this morning.

After more than 185 players launched a class-action lawsuit against World Rugby, the RFU and WRU on Monday, the Irish Times this morning reported that a similar case is looming here.

Solicitor firm Maguire McClafferty confirmed it is acting for a group of unnamed players, citing client confidentiality as it declined to reveal the number of claimants.

"I can tell you that proceedings are prepared and will, probably, be issued, I believe, by the end of September. I have them ready," senior partner Manus McClafferty said.

He confirmed that the Irish players are dealing with similar issues to those in England and Wales, where a number of former professionals including Ryan Jones and Steve Thompson have revealed they have been diagnosed with early onset dementia.

Asked for a comment, an IRFU spokesperson said: “Everyone in rugby has been moved by the personal accounts of former players as reported in the media.

"Player welfare is of paramount importance to the IRFU and we are constantly reviewing safety protocols for all players.

"Our approach, based on scientific evidence, involves a commitment to ongoing education, monitoring and application of safety protocols across the game, including proactively managing elite player game time with a focus on injury prevention and oversight.

"No proceedings have been served upon the IRFU to-date.”

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On Tuesday, a study conducted by nine universities including Harvard established a clear causal link between the repeated brain impacts playing contact sport and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which has been diagnosed in the brains of deceased rugby, football and NFL players among other sportspeople.



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