Former Wales international reveals dementia diagnosis aged 39

Andrew Coombs is one of 295 former players suing World Rugby

Chiranjit Ojha
Monday 04 December 2023 13:10 GMT
<p>Andrew Coombs played 10 times for Wales </p>

Andrew Coombs played 10 times for Wales

Former Wales forward Andrew Coombs has revealed he has been diagnosed with dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

The 39-year-old, who won the Six Nations with Wales rugby in 2013, is one of 295 former players suing World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) over neurological injuries, alleging they failed to put in place reasonable measures to protect the health and safety of players.

Coombs, who retired in 2016 due to a knee injury, wrote on X/Twitter that he was suffering from CTE symptoms for nearly four years before being diagnosed eight months ago.

“The diagnosis was a heartbreaking one but it answered many questions that had been lingering in my mind,” he said.

“I do question those who were responsible for managing the health risks associated with repetitive head collisions and concussions. Some may not understand my decision to join the legal action and that’s OK. Unfortunately I am currently unable to share my personal experiences that led to this decision, which might have provided more clarity.

“Whilst I am devastated by my diagnosis, my spirit remains strong and, in a strange way, the diagnosis has brought relief and clarity, as it has provided answers to many of my questions.”

World Rugby, the RFU and WRU said in a joint statement after Friday’s hearing: “Player welfare is rugby’s top priority and will continue to be our top priority.

“Rugby is committed to leading the welfare agenda in sport, driven by evolving science and research to protect and support players at all levels.”

London’s High Court has adjourned the players’ application for group litigation order (GLO) until next year.


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