Former rugby star Gordon D’Arcy on his concussion: ‘I’m probably one of the lucky ones’

Former Ireland rugby international Gordon D’Arcy said he was fortunate he never had any serious problems, having suffered concussions several times during his rugby career.

But he said the jury was still out on whether protocols to prevent brain injuries in rugby players needed to be strengthened given the news that some of his “colleagues” claim they have suffered from early-onset dementia as a result of contact sport.

The 42-year-old father of three told RTE One’s PrimeTime program on Thursday night: “I’ve been playing rugby since I was 11 and no doubt I’ve had a concussion in various places while playing rugby.

“There aren’t that many[incidents]that I can look back on and say … that the doctor kind of said, ‘Listen, you have to step down, you’re not going to play the next few games.

“I don’t think that ever happened,” he said.

“I remember collisions and sparks and a few other things, but I could remember the concussions — and that’s not to be a pun — but there weren’t that many I would look back on and that stood out.”

However, he added: “We cannot shy away from the fact that there are players who suffer from early onset dementia. It’s very public and it’s out there. It’s a terrible thing to have to read about my own peer group.”

But he said he genuinely believes “we followed the best advice at the time and I know I’ve been really, really well looked after by doctors in my area.”

But he added: “I’m also very aware that it hasn’t been the experience of all rugby players. I’m probably one of the lucky ones who got through this period with good experiences.”

In 2015 he retired from rugby.

He added that World Rugby and the IRFU take the issue very seriously. But he said: “It’s very difficult to diagnose a concussion in real time and that’s still one of the biggest problems in the game.”

His comments came a day after the IRFU reiterated its commitment to players’ welfare as it prepares for legal action by a group of ex-Irish players who claim they suffered brain damage playing rugby.

The union says it has not yet been informed of any pending cases after news broke on Wednesday of the players’ intention to sue.

After more than 185 players filed a class action lawsuit against World Rugby, the RFU and the WRU on Monday, the Irish Times reported that a similar case is looming here.

Law firm Maguire McClafferty confirmed it was acting for a group of unnamed players, citing client confidentiality as it refused to reveal the number of applicants.

“I can tell you that the procedure is prepared and will probably be issued by the end of September, I believe. I’ve got it done,” said senior partner Manus McClafferty.

He confirmed Irish players are struggling with similar problems to those in England and Wales, where a number of former professionals including Ryan Jones and Steve Thompson have revealed they have been diagnosed with early-onset dementia.

Asked for comment, an IRFU spokesman said: “Everyone in rugby has been moved by the personal accounts of former players, as reported in the media.

“Player welfare is of paramount importance to IRFU and we are constantly reviewing safety protocols for all players.

“Our science-based approach includes a commitment to ongoing training, monitoring and application of safety protocols across the game, including proactive management of elite players’ playing time with a focus on injury prevention and oversight.

“So far, no procedure has been served on the IRFU.” Former rugby star Gordon D’Arcy on his concussion: ‘I’m probably one of the lucky ones’

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