sport news Former England rugby union star Michael Lipman reveals terrifying impact of ...

sport news Former England rugby union star Michael Lipman reveals terrifying impact of ...
sport news Former England rugby union star Michael Lipman reveals terrifying impact of ...

Michael Lipman is joined on screen by his wife Frankie as he is asked to reflect on the last 12 months.

What follows is as painful for her to hear as it is for the ex-England flanker to articulate.

‘My symptoms have got worse. I am constantly in a place of worry for myself and my family,’ the 41-year-old tells Sportsmail over Zoom from his home in Australia, where he lives with Frankie and their children — Summer, 10, and three-year-old Joey.

Former England rugby union star Michael Lipman wants to help other struggling ex-pros

Former England rugby union star Michael Lipman wants to help other struggling ex-pros

‘I fear for their safety. If any of my family was affected because of me, that’s the worst nightmare anyone can ever go through. I have good days but then there are really bad days where I scare myself because of my cognitive decline.

‘It’s the day-to-day things that are worrying my family — like leaving the gas on and not realising.

‘I’ve had two accidents reversing out of my driveway. Once I hit a telegraph pole. Once I hit a tree on the other side of the road, not concentrating. It was ridiculous.’

Lipman is talking about his decline because it has been a year since he announced he had early onset dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

It has been a year since the 41-year-old announced he had early onset dementia

It has been a year since the 41-year-old announced he had early onset dementia

Last December, Lipman, his ex-England team-mate Steve Thompson and former Wales international Alix Popham became the first three of what is now more than 150 brain-damaged players to join a lawsuit over their sport’s failure to protect them from the risks caused by concussions.

News that they were suing World Rugby, the RFU and the Welsh Rugby Union for negligence was labelled a watershed moment. For all World Rugby’s platitudes since then, ‘nothing has changed’ as far as Lipman can see. Sadly, the same cannot be said for his own deteriorating condition.

‘It is the little things that are the scariest,’ says Frankie. ‘I have to be careful because none of this is nice for Michael to hear. But his driving worries me sometimes. It comes to the point where you question if he’s got to stop.’

Lipman interjects: ‘It will be soon.’

Lipman is one of more than 150 brain-damaged players to join a lawsuit against World Rugby

 Lipman is one of more than 150 brain-damaged players to join a lawsuit against World Rugby

As well as forgetfulness and lapses in concentration, Lipman suffers from insomnia and mood swings. He also struggles with his speech, which is partly why this is the only interview he has given in a year. There are other reasons.

‘There’s a lot of shame that comes with brain trauma,’ he says. ‘Things that are really hard to talk about. No one knows about the symptoms I am going through on a daily basis. This information hasn’t been given to anyone.’

Not least because there are shamefully few people who have actually shown interest.

‘There has been no contact from World Rugby,’ reveals Lipman, who believes he suffered more than 30 concussions in an 11-year pro career, which peaked at Bath (right) and saw him win 10 caps for his country between

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