World Rugby launch brain health campaign for former elite players

World Rugby launched an education campaign on Wednesday to increase awareness of brain health within the sport and set up a network of free brain health clinics for former elite players.

The Brain Health Initiative, supported by national unions and the International Rugby Players association, includes an educational video where independent experts outline 12 risk factors for dementia.

Those include lack of physical activity, lack of social contact, depression, heart disease, brain injury and excessive alcohol consumption.

A group of former rugby players filed a class-action lawsuit against World Rugby and other governing bodies in December, alleging their failure to protect them led to early onset of dementia.

"I've been saddened by the recent, brave accounts of former players about their experiences. As a former player myself, I appreciate that some players may be worried about their brain health," World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont, who captained England and the British & Irish Lions said in a statement.

Beaumont said that providing high-quality care and support by setting up clinics around the world would enable members of the rugby family to get better education about brain health.

"It is about creating community, starting conversations and building an understanding of how we all can make lifestyle changes that can positively impact our long-term wellbeing," Beaumont added.

World Rugby also announced this year guidelines limiting full contact training to 15 minutes per week.