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Justin Wring suffered horrific brain injuries playing rugby and is suing thje authorities

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Running semi-naked into the street after a panic attack, a drugs overdose caused by debilitating depression, a close shave with being sectioned and a near suicide. 

These are all episodes which have characterised post-rugby life for Justin Wring, the former Bristol, Leeds, Stade Francais and Otley prop. 

Wring didn’t know the total misery he has endured since retirement from the professional game was part of the bargain when he returned to rugby after a stint working as a doorman. 

The former rugby player Justin Wring, pictured with wife Charlotte and dog Boris at their home near Bristol, has suffered from early onset dementia and CTE since retirement

The former rugby player Justin Wring, pictured with wife Charlotte and dog Boris at their home near Bristol, has suffered from early onset dementia and CTE since retirement

In September last year, the now 50-year-old was diagnosed with early onset dementia and probable Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). 

Sportsmail can today reveal he is the latest to join a list of more than 150 former players who are taking legal action against World Rugby, England’s Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union for brain injuries they have suffered during their career. 

They claim rugby’s governing bodies were negligent in failing to provide them with sufficient protection from the possible risks caused by concussion and repeated blows to the head.

Tomas Francis, the Wales prop, leaves the field during the Six Nations match against England last month. Despite being clearly concussed, he returned to the field

Tomas Francis, the Wales prop, leaves the field during the Six Nations match against England last month. Despite being clearly concussed, he returned to the field

The issue has raised its ugly head at this Six Nations with Welsh prop Tomas Francis appearing clearly concussed after a clash of heads with Owen Watkin.

Instead of being removed permanently as dictated by World Rugby protocols, Francis underwent a HIA and returned to the field.

The scenario led to fierce criticism from player welfare lobby group Progressive Rugby which said the ‘clear and flagrant’ breach had put Francis at risk of serious harm.

The group’s plea for Wales not to select him for their crunch game with France in Cardiff on Friday has fallen on deaf ears.

Like England 2003 World Cup winner Steve Thompson and former Wales back-row Alix Popham, Wring is paying a heavy, heavy price for his time on the field. His anxiety is now so bad that he is essentially confined to his house. 

‘It upsets me when I see people saying we knew what we were getting into,’ said Wring. ‘I accept players knew we may struggle with injuries in later life, but not that I might wake up and not know who the woman lying next to me is. That is terrifying.’ 

Wring was no household name. Die-hard supporters of Bristol and Leeds will remember his exploits in the front row. So too will Otley fans, the club where Wring was a regular. 

Wring’s career highlight came in 2000 when, after a shock move to French rugby, he appeared off the bench to help Stade to a thrilling French league title success. 

Francis (on ground) tries to stop England's Charlie Ewels along with team-mate Owen Watkin

Francis (on ground) tries to stop England’s Charlie Ewels along with team-mate Owen Watkin

Eight years later, he hit rock bottom. Out of the blue, he became so overwhelmed that while lying in bed one evening, he jumped up and ran outside only partially clothed. 

Wring was screaming and unable to breathe. The emergency services were called. Wring’s wife Charlotte had to convince medics who were considering sectioning him under the Mental Health Act that she’d care for him at home. 

The incident was the start of continual bouts of panic attacks, anxiety, and deep depression. An overdose – after which Charlotte found him sat in his car on the driveway foaming at the mouth – followed. 

Wring was lucky to survive that one, but worse was to come. 

He left a note for Charlotte confirming his intention to end his own life. Only a last-ditch phone call with his brother-in-law stopped him from making what would have been a fatal decision. 

Justin Wring pictured during his time at Leeds

Wring in the colours of Bristol in 2006

Wring pictured during his days with the Leeds Tykes in 2001 (left) and Bristol in 2006 (right)

In 2010, Wring was checked into a psychiatric ward for three months. He regularly has nightmares and in 2015, began to have seizures doctors were unable to explain. 

‘Nothing added up and then my memory started to deteriorate,’ Wring said. ‘Over time I just seem to have deteriorated. I started to lose my words, stutter and tire easily.’ 

Wring’s life since 2008 has been anything but pleasant. It has been a delayed result of his time on the field. Last year’s diagnosis of probable CTE provided a degree of clarity, but also confirmation of a worrying future. 

‘It was strange. On the one side, it was a relief because it explained a lot. But then on the other, it was a major diagnosis which comes with a lot of uncertainties,’ Wring said. 

Not only has Wring’s mental capability collapsed, his body is also a physical wreck. 

When Wring worked the doors, his six foot, three inch and 20 stone frame meant no-one messed him about. It was the same story in rugby. Now, things are different. 

Both his knees have been operated on. Rugby left him with a lacerated thigh and a badly damaged groin. A neck operation was required because his vertebrae were pushing on his spinal cord. 

Wring's memory has started to deteriorate and he sometimes stutters as a result of the brain injuries suffered from taking blows to the head playing rugby

Wring’s memory has started to deteriorate and he sometimes stutters as a result of the brain injuries suffered from taking blows to the head playing rugby

He broke seven ribs in a collapsed maul and still suffers with stiffness in his shoulder. Wring’s left hand shakes uncontrollably, he often stutters and loses his train of thought, and appears to tire easily. 

At one point he cries as he recalls a nurse asking him what his life was like before 2008. 

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont claimed at the start of this year that any former player suffering with early onset dementia or probable CTE will be supported. 

‘No player will be left behind,’ Beaumont insisted. Wring responded: ‘I like Bill, I really do. But when he came out recently and said no player that is struggling would be left behind it made me laugh. Where is the help then? 

‘Tell me that. I’ve been waiting for some for more than a decade.’ 

Wring’s voice is the latest to join that of Thompson – who can’t remember England’s 2003 World Cup win – as well as Popham and many others as rugby’s concussion crisis shows no sign of ending. His is unlikely to be the last.

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