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Rugby Player Welfare Update: "Confirmed" Link Between Rugby and CTE

Doctors in Glasgow has confirmed their first case of CTE in a deceased rugby player.
Doctors in Glasgow has confirmed their first case of CTE in a deceased rugby player.
Jeff HullContributor IIIAugust 5, 2013

Player welfare in the sport of rugby has been on the minds of many lately, following the recent comments of Scotland international Rory Lamont.

My own investigations, which began prior to Lamont's statements, are part of an ongoing series here at Bleacher Report.

Click here for Part One of Jeff Hull's Player Welfare series

Click here for Part Two of Jeff Hull's Player Welfare series

Click here for Part Three of Jeff Hull's Player Welfare series

Lamont's comments are now the subject of an investigation by the Scottish Rugby Union.

Only days after that probe was announced, Dr. Willie Stewart, a consultant at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, told the BBC that he had discovered what he believed to be the first confirmed case of early-onset dementia caused by playing rugby.

Examinations of this kind can only be performed on the brains of deceased athletes.

As we have covered in our previous reporting, this type of brain damage is more commonly known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

Dr. Stewart went on to comment:

What we are finding now is that it is not just in boxers. We are seeing it in other sports where athletes are exposed to head injury in high levels.

Those sports include American football, ice hockey and also now I have to say I have seen a case, the same pathology, in somebody whose exposure was rugby.

He went on to BBC Radio Scotland:

I think on current evidence coming from American studies, from looking at American football, our historical evidence looking at boxers throughout the world, I think it would be foolish to think there will be no problem and that rugby is immune from brain damage.

There are other cases that I am aware of internationally, but this is the first complete case.

Former Scotland international and current BBC columnist John Beattie has called this a "game-changer" for the rugby community.

Watch for our ongoing investigations into player welfare in rugby, right here on Bleacher Report.

Jeff Hull is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.

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