Ryan Jones reveals heartbreaking dementia diagnosis at just 41
‘My world is falling apart’: Wales rugby icon Ryan Jones reveals heartbreaking dementia diagnosis at just 41 and admits he is ‘terrified’ about the future… as he claims the sport is ‘walking with its eyes closed into a catastrophic situation’
- Ex-Wales captain Ryan Jones has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia
- The 41-year-old admits he is ‘terrified’ about the future and the impact it will have
- He believes rugby is ‘walking headlong with its eyes closed into a catastrophe’
- It is thought 200 ex-rugby players have been diagnosed with dementia and CTE
Former Wales captain Ryan Jones believes rugby is ‘walking headlong with its eyes closed into a catastrophic situation’ after he revealed he is suffering with early onset dementia.
In an emotional interview with The Sunday Times, Jones, 41, has opened up on his diagnosis with both dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
He follows in the footsteps of England’s 2003 World Cup-winning hooker Steve Thompson, another former Wales international in Alix Popham, and others in dealing with the illnesses.
Ryan Jones feels his ‘world is falling apart’ after being diagnosed with early-onset dementia
The Mail on Sunday understands the number of ex-players who have been diagnosed with early onset dementia and probable CTE could reach up to 200.
‘I feel like my world is falling apart,’ said Jones, who won 75 Welsh caps and captained his country on 33 occasions.
He also played in all three Tests for the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand in 2005.
Jones continued: ‘I am really scared. I lived 15 years of my life like a superhero and I’m not. I don’t know what the future holds.
‘I am a product of an environment that is all about process and human performance. I’m not able to perform like I could. I just want to lead a happy, healthy, normal life.
‘I feel that’s been taken away and there is nothing I can do.’
Jones has followed in the footsteps of former England World Cup winner Steve Thompson
On a huge weekend of rugby in which Wales, England, Ireland and Scotland all played crunch series deciders in the southern hemisphere, Jones’ testimony has shocked the sport.
Jones won three Six Nations Grand Slams with Wales in 2005, 2008 and 2012 as well as a Championship title in 2013. He captained the side to those 2008 and 2012 successes.
As recently as 2020, Jones was employed by the Welsh Rugby Union and had worked for the governing body as director of community rugby and then performance director.
He was told of his diagnosis last December.
Jones’ partner Charley has described living with the former back-row forward as ‘like having a conversation with my 85-year-old granddad.’
He believes rugby is ‘walking headlong with its eyes closed into a catastrophic situation’
Jones added: ‘I’ve got three children and three step-children and I want to be a fantastic dad.
‘I can’t train harder, I can’t play the referee. I don’t know what the rules of the game are anymore.
‘We don’t know where to go, where to find support. We haven’t got any friends in this space.
‘It terrifies me. That’s the fear. That’s the bit that never leaves.
‘That’s the bit I can’t shake off.’
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