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Former Wales Captain Ryan Jones Reveals He Has Early Onset Dementia

Former Wales Captain Ryan Jones Reveals He Has Early Onset Dementia
By Donny Mahoney Updated

There's more extremely grim news pertaining to rugby's head injury crisis this evening, as former Wales captain Ryan Jones has disclosed he has been diagnosed with early onset dementia and probable CTE.

Jones - a father of three children and step-father of three children - is only 41-years-old. He received the diagnosis last December.

The former Ospreys backrow shares his struggles in an interview with David Walsh in this week's Sunday Times.

“I’m not able to perform like I could. And I just want to lead a happy, healthy, normal life. I feel that’s been taken away and there’s nothing I can do. I can’t train harder, I can’t play the referee, I don’t know what the rules of the game are any more.”

It's a deeply troubling interview for anyone interested in rugby, and you can read it here. News like this makes the arguments against red cards on head-to-head tackles from certain sectors of rugby coaching and rugby media seem borderline offensive.

Ryan Jones: Wales legend

Jones had many memorable battles with Ireland over the years. He captained Wales to the 2008 Grand Slam and was on the pitch that night in Cardiff a year later when Ireland won its first Grand Slam. Other than Sam Warburton, no one has captained Wales more times.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive brain condition that comes from receiving many blows to the head. It poses an existential issue for the NFL in America and is hugely worrying for rugby players.

In 2020, England World Cup winner Steve Thomson revealed he is suffering from the same condition and said he no longer remembers the 2003 World Cup final in Sydney.

"There's no getting away from it being a contact sport, but we have to give future generations a better and safer game. The brain needs to be given as much care and attention as other parts of the body," Thompson said at the time. He has decided to donate his brain to science.


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