ADVERTISEMENT
RugbyDump
REGISTER
LOGIN
ADVERTISEMENT
RugbyDump
Wednesday Nov 3, 2021

All Black legend forgot his own son's name after years of blows to the head

Former All Black front rower Karl Hayman has revealed that he has been diagnosed with early onset dementia, aged just 41. Capped 45 times for his country, the powerful prop played almost 450 professional matches. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Hayman has joined a group of players who are attempting to sue World Rugby and the RFU after he was diagnosed with probable CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).

He believes that a number of successive blows to the head are what led to him now being in an awful situation, whereby over the years he has had memory and alcohol issues, leading to suicidal thoughts.

Once the world’s highest paid player, the former tighthead says that he once thought he was going crazy.

He spoke to The Bounce about how he suffered from disorientation even before his career ended, ceaseless headaches and how he ended up with a suspended prison sentence after a charge of domestic violence when living in France.

“I spent several years thinking I was going crazy. At one stage that’s genuinely what I thought. It was the constant headaches and all these things going on that I couldn’t understand,” Hayman says.

Video Spacer
ADVERTISEMENT

After extensive testing he finally found out the reasons for his feelings and behaviour.

He is now part of a wider group of 150 former players who are taking on authorities, claiming that players were not protected from the risks caused by concussion, despite being fully aware of the dangers,

“I um’d and ah’d for about 12 months about whether I’d do anything about it and find out if something was wrong with me, or whether I would just get on with life and hope for the best. I went to the doctors here before I went to the UK but the process seemed like it was going to take a long time and I was getting to the point where I needed answers,” he says.

READ MORE: Traumatic brain injury expert not surprised at planned legal action following shocking player revelations

“It would be pretty selfish of me to not speak up and talk about my experience when I could help a guy in New Zealand perhaps who doesn’t understand what’s happening to him and has no support network to lean on.”

Hayman feels that player welfare is still not what it should be.

ADVERTISEMENT

“When I first started playing pro rugby I remember having a Players’ Association meeting and the conversation was all about having a global window and a shorter season. We’re still having the same conversations about rugby now. There’s a number of changes we can and have to make to help protect the players of the future.

“I look at the NFL again and they have a 17-game season across four-to-five months with the possibility of a couple of playoff games. You compare that to rugby with a 10-month season.

“There needs to be a discussion about what constitutes an acceptable volume of rugby.”

READ MORE: As World Rugby respond, here is a closer look at the whole concussion case situation

At Toulon, Hayman played 156 matches in five years.

“Basically, if I was fit and available, I was on the field,” he says. “There were times that I probably shouldn’t have played but it was expected – like when I had a root nerve anti-inflammatory injection in my neck during the week and was back on the pitch at the weekend. They worked us hard and I never complained. It was my job and I was paid well, but I doubt it did any favours.”

His memory issues started to affect his home life.

“I started having substantial memory issues. I was trying to get a passport for my son and I couldn’t remember his middle name, which was a significant moment. I was searching around for it in my mind for a good 25 seconds and had to go, ‘I’m really sorry, I’ve forgotten’, to the person on the phone trying to do the passport. ‘I’ve forgotten my son’s name’.

“I had temper issues, definitely, and then at this point of my life, it led down the track to what I’d consider alcohol abuse. I always enjoyed a beer with the boys but at this point I began drinking more. I didn’t know what was going on and the drinking brought a little bit of an escape for a certain amount of time. It would temporarily alleviate the symptoms somewhat but then, as you can imagine, the next day things would be back to how they felt before, if not worse. It was a vicious cycle I got caught in.”

Read the full piece here

Video Spacer

Related Articles

  • 9 WEEKS AGO

    Ellis Genge puts on his boxing gloves ready...

  • 9 WEEKS AGO

    Crazy scenes as player deliberately kicks...

  • 9 WEEKS AGO

    RFU make decision on transgender players...



ADVERTISEMENT

Great Tries

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Carlos Spencer Proves Why He Is Rugby's Greatest Ever Magician

  • 7 WEEKS AGO

    Jero De La Fuente pulls Hamstring and uses it to score incredible try

  • 7 WEEKS AGO

    Waisale Serevi: The greatest sevens player ever

  • 7 WEEKS AGO

    David Campese: The Aussie all time great

  • 7 WEEKS AGO

    The man who once raced a Cheetah: Bryan Habana

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    Controversial Etzebeth Incident Still Being Debated

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    Juan Imhoff Takes Full Power Frans Steyn Kick To The Face

  • 6 DAYS AGO

    Springbok Fans Left Reeling At Officiating Despite Convincing Win

  • 6 DAYS AGO

    Bundee Aki Shown Red Following Ludicrous Challenge

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    The Latest Tuilagi Has Just Made His Top14 Debut And Is A MONSTER

View All

See It To Believe It

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    Harlequins fans furious at refereeing decision that gives Exeter the win

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Carlos Spencer Proves Why He Is Rugby's Greatest Ever Magician

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Worcester name 41-year-old academy coach in tonight's premiership cup clash

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Crazy refereeing decision leads to All Blacks win

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Speculation rife after apparent handshake snub in All Blacks coaching box

View All

Funnies

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    John Smit Shares Epic Bakkies Botha Story Highlighting Why Opponents Feared Him

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Heart-warming drop goal competition between Foster and Reece goes viral

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Hilarious Streaker Tries To Distract Sharp Shooting Goal Kicker

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Throwback To The Wildest Conversion In Rugby History

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    "I'd Beat Him" Quade Cooper Speaks Out On Potential Jake Paul Fight

View All

Amateur

  • 9 WEEKS AGO

    Dubious Score Decides Result Of Rugby's Biggest Schools Fixture

  • 9 WEEKS AGO

    Incredible Scenes At School Boys Rugby Match

  • 9 WEEKS AGO

    The Next Dominant Backrow?

  • 10 WEEKS AGO

    Hilarious Club House Antics Shows Rugby Spirit

  • 15 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: South African Schools Rugby Is On Fire

View All

Player Features

  • 11 HOURS AGO

    England winger returns from injury to make premiership debut for Leicester

  • 1 DAY AGO

    Bundee Aki faces huge ban following sending off

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Joe Simmonds addresses lack of form in honest interview

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Rugby great Eddie Butler sadly passes away

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Graham Rowntree reacts to missing out on 2003 world cup in fascinating video

View All