Dementia in rugby: Rugby Football Union chief accepts language shift needed – BBC Sport

Eddie Jones oversees a scrum in training
Eddie Jones’ side prides itself on its physical approach

The head of the Rugby Football Union accepts a shift in tone and language from Eddie Jones and his England team may be necessary to help the game’s image in light of the dementia crisis.

But RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney admits “use of words is important”.

“I think that is a fair point,” Sweeney told BBC Sport.

“We all know that rugby is a physical sport, and normally whoever physically dominates in a game, particularly at the elite end, will tend to come out on top.”

But, he added: “In terms of how it [the game] is portrayed, use of words is important.”

Two former England internationals, hooker Steve Thompson and flanker Michael Lipman, have both been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and are launching legal proceedings against the game’s governing bodies.

However, Sweeney is confident the England squad of today are well looked after and protected by the current coaching and medical staff.

“Eddie is absolutely committed to the wellbeing and safety of those players; he loves that squad so he would not do anything that would compromise the safety of that squad,” Sweeney said.

“Every conversation around the game has a major player welfare component to it. I spoke to one of the players from the current squad, to test that out.”

He said he was aware players could just tell the CEO what they think he wants to hear, but added: “In this case, I think I got the truth.”

And while the intensity of Jones’ training sessions are well renowned, Sweeney believes England’s elite players are not being put through any undue stress when in camp.

“There was one particular bad year [for injuries] – around 2017-2018 – but I’ve been to a couple of training sessions this year and there is very little physical contact involved,” he said.

“You might get a freak occurrence, but I don’t personally think [the sessions] are that physical.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *