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Matt Dawson – ‘I won’t blame anyone if I get dementia’

Former England international Matt Dawson has said he does not feel “let down” by rugby even if he develops brain damage as a result of the sport.

There has been a lot of discussion in recent days about the risks rugby pose after former England player Steve Thompson revealed he had developed early onset dementia at the age of 42.

The 2003 World Cup winner reveals he does not remember England’s successful run in Australia and at times even forgets his own wife’s name.

Dawson, a former team mate of Thompson, insists he will hold no grudge against the sport if he develops similar long-term issues.

“No one forced me to do this,” he said. “In my era they [the authorities] acted with their best knowledge of the scenario.

“I don’t feel the game has let me down. The whole of my life is because I chose to play rugby, I’m a big boy, I made that decision.

“I picked my vocation and I will take the consequences, I’m owning up to them, I’m having them so I’ve got to deal with them.

“If they’re bad then I’ve got to deal with them. But I’m not going to sit here and blame anyone, say it was anybody’s fault. Whether I’ve got dementia now or whether I have it in 20 years,” Dawson said on BBC’s rugby union podcast.

‘I have been worried about it for a while’

While Dawson won’t hold anyone other than himself accountable for any potential brain damage he has suffered, he has urged the sport’s governing bodies to take care of those suffering from issues related to rugby.

“I would love to see there being an outlet for these players to get help where they need it and that should be significantly funded.

“This is a conversation that has been going on for decades. You say tip of the iceberg, everybody knows from pre-my era what the game was all about, how physical it was, what sort of contact and training we were involved in, it was absolutely inevitable.

“The people that are very close to me have known that I have been worried about it for a while just because there is an inevitability about it, from the characteristics I feel myself and listening to others,” Dawson commented.

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