Ryan Jones reveals he has early onset dementia and has joined a legal action with other families.
Grand Slam winning rugby captain Ryan Jones has joined a legal action against rugby’s governing bodies after being diagnosed with early onset dementia.
In an interview with the Sunday Times the 41-year-old former Wales and British Lions forward said he felt like his “world was falling apart”.
In December, rugby World Cup winner, Steve Thompson and seven other former players started the claim.
Messages of support have been sent to Jones after he shared his diagnosis.
Jones won 75 caps for Wales between 2004 and 2014 and also played in three Tests for the British and Irish Lions.
In an interview with the Sunday Times he said specialists had told him he was one of the worst cases of probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) they had seen, adding that he did not know what the future holds.
“I am a product of an environment that is all about process and human performance,” he added.
“I’m not able to perform like I could. And I just want to lead a happy, healthy, normal life.”
‘Hope for change in rugby’
Lloyd Jones, whose father rugby player Peter Jones died from dementia, caused by repeated head blows, is part of the legal action that Jones has joined.
He said he hoped the former Wales captain joining the legal action would “kickstart a motion to have a change in the future of rugby”.
“It’s a huge landmark. He’s a British Lion and has been captain of Wales,” he said.
“He’s been on the scene for so long and this is going to shock and upset a lot of people. It’s going to hit home.”
After he spoke out, messages of support came in from politicians, charities and members of the sporting world.
Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, tweeted: “You will always be our superhero. Wales loves you xxx.”
Noel Mooney, chief executive of the Football Association of Wales (FAW), tweeted he was sorry to hear Jones’ news, adding: “Ryan is a good guy with a fabulous career in sport and my thoughts and all @FAWales are with him.”
In May, the Alzheimer’s Society established partnerships with organisations including the Rugby Players’ Association to provide a permanent way of referring any player or manager who has either been diagnosed with dementia or is caring for a loved one.
Following Jones’ interview, the charity tweeted: “We’re sorry to hear ex Welsh Rugby Captain, Ryan Jones, has been diagnosed with young onset dementia.
“We’re working with @HealthPolicyPtp on a review of research priorities in this area. Sending Ryan and his family all of our support.”
Wales’ deputy sports minister Dawn Bowden MS tweeted it was “such awful news”, adding: “My thoughts with Ryan and his family”.
Member of the Senedd for Newport West Jayne Bryant said: “Absolutely devastating for Ryan and his family.
“The collisions in world rugby have had such an impact on players.
“We need to protect them and world rugby needs to take action,” she added.
Absolutely devastating for Ryan and his family. The collisions in world rugby have had such an impact on players. We need to protect them and world rugby needs to take action https://t.co/cqMW2wujrL— Jayne Bryant Newport West (@JBryantWales)
Labour MP for Pontypridd, Alex Davies-Jones said it “highlights the need for thorough HIA’s (Head Injury Assessment) and proper protocol in all contact sports and entertainment”.
This is such tragic news!
Sending all the love to Ryan and his family.
But it highlights the need for thorough HIA’s and proper protocol in all contact sports and entertainment 👇 https://t.co/0j9noeg16e— Alex Davies-Jones MP (@AlexDaviesJones)