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Ryan Jones dementia diagnosis, brain injury, concussion, interview, Wales, reaction

“I feel like my world is falling apart,” former Wales captain Ryan Jones said after revealing he was the latest high-profile ex-rugby player to suffer a serious brain injury.

Back-rower Jones, who won 75 caps for Wales as well as three caps for the British and Irish Lions, said in early December that he was suffering from dementia, possibly chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

The 41-year-old told the Sunday Times: “I feel like my world is falling apart.

“And I’m really scared. Because I have three kids and three stepkids and I want to be a great dad.

“I spent 15 years of my life as a superhero and I’m not. I don’t know what will happen in the future… I haven’t been able to perform as well as I could.

“And I just want to live a happy, healthy, normal life. I feel like that’s been taken away and there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t train hard, I can’t play referee, I don’t know what the rules of the game are.”

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How rugby deals with head injuries and concussions has become a big talking point in the game.

A number of former players, including England’s World Cup winner Steve Thompson and Jones’ former Test team-mate Alex Popham, have been sued for failing to defend themselves by World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union. from shock accidents.

“(Rugby) is walking into a terrible situation with its eyes closed,” he said.

Last month, World Rugby announced that, in some cases, elite players would face a minimum of 12 days on the sidelines under strict concussion protocols.

The previous system meant that a player who passed a head injury assessment was considered eligible to play next weekend, provided he followed and passed return-to-play protocols.

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But when Ireland captain Jonny Sexton was fit to play in the second Test against New Zealand, there were fears that the new procedures would not be enough.

The fly-half hit his head on the half-hour mark in the first of three matches.

Sexton failed a head injury assessment on the sideline during Ireland’s defeat in Auckland but passed the second and third HIA procedures before leading Ireland to a memorable 2-1 series win over the All Blacks.

Jones’s partner, Charlie, says his memory is that talking to him is sometimes “like talking to my 85-year-old grandfather.”

And Jones, who retired in 2015, said the experience made him wary of encouraging his children to pursue a career in top-flight rugby.

“Do I want to be a father in ten years, or if Charlie leaves to pick up the pieces, when he’s 30, you’re talking to my son and saying, ‘Guess what, you’re going the way your father went?'” he said.

“We’ve known it all along and I won’t stop you and we have a boy. I couldn’t live with that.”

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