The plaintiffs played for different provinces over a 24-year period.
They were never team-mates but they share a common bond, meaning they will be forever clutched together after their High Court cases against the IRFU, their respective provinces and World Rugby this week.
This action was well announced in advance as a similar case was pending in the UK.
Until yesterday it was unclear how many players would take a case. It was also not known which players put their names on the color.
The trio, David Corkery, Declan Fitzpatrick and Ben Marshall, have all spoken openly about the impact the head injuries they sustained playing rugby have had on their lives.
Corkery is the elder statesman of the trio, a teak hard flanker who proudly represented Munster and Ireland during the period when rugby made the transition from amateur to professional.
He represented Ireland 27 times and played at the Rugby World Cup. He also played a season at Bristol as the game here was struggling to adapt to a world where players were suddenly being paid.
Corkery last played professionally in 1999 and it was another seven years before Fitzpatrick showed up in Ulster. He made seven appearances for Ireland, most notably coming on as a substitute in the dramatic final when Joe Schmidt’s side fell short against New Zealand in 2013.
Marshall – who competed for Leinster and Connacht – has the lowest profile of the three, a promising player who never lived up to his potential as an injury ended his career in 2017.
All three have spoken openly about the impact brain injuries have had on their lives and have been moved to act. The case is now with the insurers of the IRFU who will assess the risk and act accordingly.
The union is not alone in facing such cases. Sports governing bodies around the world have had to deal with cases of brain injuries in several sports, with the most prominent rugby action taking place in Britain, as a large group of former players launched proceedings earlier this year.
The statement released yesterday by IRFU referred to harrowing reports from the likes of Steve Thompson, Alix Popham and Ryan Jones – former players in England and Wales who have been diagnosed with early-onset dementia.
There is a realization for the game’s national governing body that the publicity surrounding an event like this will raise more questions about how brain injuries are managed.
And whatever the outcome of this case, you will know that the sport is under the scrutiny of fans, parents and current players as it struggles with head injuries and concussions.
Administrators will point out how the game has adjusted its laws; the zero tolerance for head high hits and the protocols put in place during and after games to ensure players who have sustained head injuries are removed and withdrawn for a reasonable period of time.
Skeptics marvel at the physicality of a sport where participants seem on an endless quest to get bigger, faster and stronger.
Just yesterday, Ireland centre-back Bundee Aki was handed an eight-week ban after being sent off during his game for Connacht against South African side The Stormers.
It was his third red card in three years for a head-high goal and, taken in isolation, he is an example of players and coaches failing to adapt despite all the changes in the law and penalties.
So while the rugby careers of Corkery, Fitzpatrick and Marshall are all spoken of in the past tense, the subject remains a living one for those who play the game.
Just last summer, New Zealand rugby union was forced to apologize after Ireland prop Jeremy Loughman was not stripped when he showed signs of a concussion.
Those who practice the sport believe that they can develop out of a crisis and it is often said that training methods and medical standards are much better today than they used to be.
Attitudes are slowly changing, but in public opinion, these cases can hurt a sport that still needs convincing on safety issues.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/concussion-case-brings-renewed-focus-on-rugbys-existential-threat-42028204.html A concussion case brings rugby’s existential threat back into focus