Wales Grand Slam winning captain and former British and Irish Lion Ryan Jones has announced that he has been diagnosed with early onset dementia.
A hulking backrow during his playing days, Jones,41, received a diagnosis of probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in December 2021.
As discussions around player safety ramp up, in particular following a number of incidents in this years’ summer tours. Examples such as Jones and former England Steve Thompsons’ will be at the forefront of the games governing bodies.
Inherently with such a physical sport injury will occur, however this cannot be used as a reason not to continue the development of player safety.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Jones laid out just how frightening the diagnosis is.
“I feel like my world is falling apart, and I am really scared. Because I’ve got three children and three stepchildren, and I want to be a fantastic dad.”
“I lived 15 years of my life like a superhero and I’m not. I don’t know what the future holds.”
Specialists told Jones that he was one of the worst cases they have seen in a rather unnerving revelation.
“I am a product of an environment that is all about process and human performance. I’m not able to perform like I could. And I just want to lead a happy, healthy, normal life.”
“I feel that’s been taken away and there’s nothing I can do. I can’t train harder, I can’t play the referee, I don’t know what the rules of the game are anymore.”
Initially diagnosed with depression before he started having short term memory issues, Jones fears for what may come in a point that could leave a lasting effect on the game when it comes to parents weighing up which sport their kids will play.
“It terrifies me because I don’t know if, in two years’ time, we’re sat here and these episodes are a weeklong, two weeks long or permanent.”
Despite saying he would not change a thing about his rugby career as a professional player. In a pretty damming statement of what could be to come Jones believes that not enough is being done to counter the issues.
“It is walking headlong with its eyes closed into a catastrophic situation.”