Dafydd James

Dafydd James has revealed his diagnosis of early onset dementia. Pic: BBC

Dafydd James Joins Hundreds Of Players In Legal Action After Dementia Diagnosis

By Paul Jones

Dafydd James, the former Wales and Lions wing, has revealed he has been diagnosed with early onset dementia.

James, who is now 47-years-old, played for the Scarlets, Bridgend, and Pontypridd before his career ended in 2009 after fracturing a vertebra in his neck.

He had previously spoken about suffering from panic attacks and anxiety after retiring from rugby.

James is one of a group of former rugby union, rugby league and football players who are part of a collective legal action against the game’s authorities.

A total of 378 ex-players are due to have their claims filed in the High Court on Tuesday.

As part of legal action against rugby’s governing bodies, including the Rugby Football Union, World Rugby, and the Welsh Rugby Union, James is accusing them of failing to protect players from permanent brain injuries.

While these organisations expressed sadness over James’ diagnosis, they were unable to comment on the matter due to the ongoing legal proceedings.

In an interview with the BBC, James explained that he sought testing for dementia because he “was wondering what was wrong” with him.

He was also diagnosed with probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition. He hopes that sharing his diagnosis will help other people who are suffering from mental health issues.

James said he had told his sons about his diagnosis, but they did not fully understand.

“They’re kids and they’re very supportive, I’m lucky in that regard, I’m blessed,” he said.

He also explained that he had experienced extreme headaches and wants to learn more about his condition to help future generations.

He emphasized the importance of knowledge in understanding and dealing with the effects of brain injuries.

“To the guys who are suffering, I think knowledge is key to understanding. I just think that knowledge is key and I think it’s important that people practice with care.

“Long may the game survive and thrive, I’m certainly not one of these people that wants to see the demise of the game, it’s given me so much pleasure,” he said.

Richard Boardman of sports legal firm Rylands Garth, which is acting for all the claimants, said: “There is remarkable consistency of symptoms across all these contact sports and it’s very grim.

“Everybody, the lawyers included in this matter, are all fans of these sports our main priority is looking after our guys and female payers as well with brain damage and they need urgent clinical support and damages for themselves and their families.

“We ultimately want these sports to survive well into the future, but clearly urgent, immediate changes are needed.”

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