Former Wales Rugby League international with early-onset dementia in rugby union lawsuit

A former Wales Rugby League international suffering early-onset dementia is among more than 180 rugby union players who have issued formal proceedings against World Rugby, the Welsh Rugby Union and the Rugby Football Union over failure to protect against the risk of brain damage caused by concussion.

Lenny Woodard made five appearances and scored three tries for the Dragons between 1999 and 2005 (he also represented Wales Students and Great Britain Students while at university in Cardiff) and played ten times, with four tries, for National League Two club Celtic Crusaders in 2006.

The ex-winger, now 46, also made two non-Test appearances for the Wales rugby union team in 1998 during a lengthy 15-a-side career which took in a string of clubs, including hometown Pontypool, Ebbw Vale, London Welsh, Pontypridd, Bridgend, Aberavon, Maesteg and Cross Keys.

Woodard, who says he first suffered a concussion at the age of eleven, fears he won’t recognise his children in five years because of his condition, which he believes was caused by playing rugby.

“My memory, my thought processes, are declining gradually and I can see that,” he said.

“I was diagnosed a year ago and I can see it has got worse over the last year. I’m hoping to slow that acceleration as much as possible.”

The union players, who contend the named authorities were negligent in failing to take reasonable action to protect them from permanent injury caused by repetitive concussive and sub-concussive blows, are represented by Rylands Legal.

The London-based firm also represents 75 Rugby League players as part of a separate potential claim.

That group includes former Great Britain and England halfback Bobbie Goulding, who last year revealed he had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia at the age of 49. 

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