TODAY |

England's Rugby Players' Association calls for changes to training in bid to avoid brain injury

The England Rugby Players' Association is calling for changes to be made in the way players train as concerns grow over brain injuries 

The calls come as eight former players wrote a letter of claim to World Rugby, asserting that they have suffered brain damage due to negligence from officials.

Among the players is former England hooker Steve Thompson, who has revealed he has been diagnosed with early onset dementia at the age of 42.

He says he can't remember winning the 2003 World Cup. 

Thompson's team-mate Ben Cohen has backed up the claims of the RPA.

"Its like 20 controlled car crashes a week, some of these hits are just bone-rattling, they really are," Cohen said.

"I think that the system, the IRB, the RFU have a massive responsibility to look at the whole area."

Experts that have studied ex-players say that Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is the likely cause of the post-retirement diagnoses.

The condition develops from numerous small head traumas and the symptoms include memory loss, mood swings and dementia.

CEO of the Rugby Players' Association Damian Hopley says that trainings are where the players are the most at risk. 

"A big percentage of injuries occur during training  so I think that has to part the opportunity to address these things, and perhaps training protocols is something that we need to address very quickly," he said