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08th Dec 2020

England Rugby World Cup winner announces he is suffering from dementia aged 42

Steve Thompson - a 2003 Rugby World Cup winner with England - has announced he has dementia. He plans to take legal action against the sport's authorities

Alex Roberts

He is only 42 years old

Steve Thompson – a 2003 Rugby World Cup winner with England – has today announced he is suffering from dementia.

Thompson plans to take legal action against rugby’s governing bodies, in a move which could hold serious ramifications for the future of rugby.

Thompson previously told The Guardian that he couldn’t remember lifting the Rugby World Cup with England.

He has revealed he is suffering from early onset dementia, and has joined up with fellow ex-pros to mount a legal challenge against the game’s authorities.

Thompson is part of a group of eight players, all of whom under the age of 45, who plan on taking rugby’s governing bodies to task. The group are planning a legal challenge against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).

The group claims rugby’s governing bodies did not do enough to protect them from the risks – both short and long term – of serious concussions.

Steve Thompson plans to mount a legal challenge against rugby’s governing bodies. (Photo: Getty)

All eight players have been told they are suffering from early onset dementia with possible CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), although the latter can only be confirmed by a post-mortem examination.

The announcement of Thompson’s diagnosis comes on the same day ex-Wales flanker Alix Popham revealed he too is suffering from the same symptoms.

Popham is just 40 years old, and told the BBC he was given the diagnosis after consulting a doctor regarding personality changes.

He told BBC Sport Wales: “I felt like there was a rage inside me boiling up and I just needed to get it out.

“I slammed the doors and broke them. The bannister in the house, I pulled that off. After that aggression has come out, I’m thinking to myself, why did I do that? I have no control over those actions at that time.”