FORMER Dragons back Adam Hughes is among the retired players suffering from concussion-related health problems to have joined a lawsuit against the game.

A pre-action letter of claim was on Thursday morning delivered to World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union on behalf of nine players being represented by Rylands Law.

In addition to England forwards Steve Thompson and Michael Lipman and Wales back rower Alix Popham from Newport, 30-year-old Hughes and 44-year-old England Under-21 back row Neil Spence have also chosen to sue.

Four of the six new claimants have asked to remain anonymous, but it is understood they include one former England and one former Wales international.

South Wales Argus:

Hughes made 119 appearances for the Dragons after coming through the academy and impressing with Newport RFC in the Premiership.

The wing/centre had two spells at Rodney Parade that sandwiched spells with Bristol and Exeter in England.

He retired at the age of 28 in April, 2018 when a scan revealed two major trauma scars on his brain. He has since become an independent financial adviser with Niche in Newport while also striving to become a professional rugby referee.

"I ended my career at 28 following a particularly bad concussion. It was just one head knock too many," said Hughes.

"I was finding it more and more difficult to recover from each and every bang to the head.

"It snowballed really. At first it was the bigger concussions where I was completely knocked out that took me ages to recover from then over the time even the smaller ones started to have an impact. For the sake of my health, I had to bring it to a halt.

"I had about eight complete knock-outs in my career, the worst one was during a pre-season game in 2016 where it took me six months to recover.

"With the other concussions, there are large parts of the days they happened that I have lost forever.

"For example, after one knock-out my only memory is sitting in the stand, it was freezing cold and I had a big coat on.

“I had no idea how I got there or any recollection of the day up until that point. It was the coaches who told me what happened."

There are some who say players knew what they were getting into but Hughes feels chances were missed to make the game safter.

South Wales Argus:

"I know people will say that I knew what the risks were. Yes, I did, but that misses the point completely," he said.

"If there were opportunities to make the game safer, and I believe there were, then it was incumbent on those with power to do so. The game still has a very long way to go in terms of education about concussion.

"I’m not yet suffering in the way that some of the older rugby players are, but I am still adapting what I do in everyday life to make sure I do not trigger the symptoms, and I am still learning where my limits are.

"I had to completely build up my threshold to exercise from scratch, and this is an on-going battle for me. If I push those limits too far, then the rest of the day will be spent in a dark room feeling sick."

The basis of the claim made on behalf of the nine test cases - Rylands Law say they are talking to over 130 more retired players - is that the sport's governing bodies failed to provide sufficient protection from the risks caused by concussion.

Hughes has been diagnosed with having brain injuries and post-concussion symptoms since his career was ended in 2018, while the remaining eight have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, early onset dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma and was previously known as punch drunk syndrome and dementia pugilistica.

Rylands Law alleges that the risks of concussions and sub-concussive injuries were "known and foreseeable" and lists 24 failures on the part of World Rugby, RFU and WRU.

The governing bodies have a maximum of three months from the date of acknowledgement of the letter of claim to respond. The letter focuses on "broad allegations" rather than "an exhaustive list of the evidence".

All three have been contacted for comment.

"The claimants allege that the RFU, WRU Ltd and World Rugby owed them, as individual professional players, a duty to take reasonable care for their safety by establishing and implementing rules and regulations in respect of the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of actual or suspected concussive and sub-concussive injuries during match play and training sessions," the letter says.

"Given the significance of the risk of serious and permanent brain damage as a result of concussive and sub-concussive injuries, it was incumbent on and the duty of the RFU, WRU and World Rugby to take such steps and to devise and implement such rules and regulations as were required in order to remove, reduce or minimise the risks of permanent brain damage as a consequence of such concussive and sub-concussive injuries."

Richard Boardman of Rylands Law insists some of the test cases will demonstrate the potential harm caused by playing the sport no matter the position.

"Last week's announcement about the condition of some of rugby's sporting greats has sent shockwaves around the sport. Yet, for many, it was inevitable," Boardman said.

"I think what will surprise people when they see the test cases is the age of the players, but also the positions in which they played.

"You don't have to be a bruising forward in the middle of the scrum to suffer concussive injuries."