In 2003 Steve Thompson helped England win the World Cup, playing a part in one of the most memorable endings to a match. Now aged 43, he finds he has no memory of the match at all – and has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. Andy Bull describes how a group of former stars are launching a legal case against the sport’s governing bodies
The 2003 World Cup final between England and Australia had gone into the last minute of extra time, with scores tied. Steve Thompson, the England hooker, threw the ball in from a line out and, as England advanced, the ball ended with Jonny Wilkinson, whose drop goal dramatically won the match for England. It’s one of the most memorable moments in recent rugby history, but Thompson, now retired aged 42, doesn’t remember it.
The Guardian’s Andy Bull tells Rachel Humphreys about his investigation into rugby and dementia, during which he spoke to Thompson, one of several former players launching legal action against rugby union’s governing bodies. They claim that past failures to properly manage the safety of players who regularly received blows to the head has left some of them with debilitating conditions such as dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Audio | The Guardian
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