‘My world is falling apart’: Ryan Jones reveals heartbreaking dementia diagnosis aged just 41
‘My world is falling apart’: Welsh rugby icon Ryan Jones reveals a heartbreaking diagnosis of dementia aged just 41 and admits he’s ‘scared’ for the future… as he claims the sport is going ‘with my eyes closed into a catastrophic one Situation”.
- Ex-Wales captain Ryan Jones has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia
- The 41-year-old admits he is “scared” about the future and the impact it will have
- He believes rugby is ‘headfirst into disaster with our eyes closed’
- 200 ex-rugby players are believed to have been diagnosed with dementia and CTE
Former Wales captain Ryan Jones believes rugby is “going headfirst into a disastrous situation with my eyes closed” after revealing he was suffering from early onset dementia.
In an emotional interview with The Sunday TimesJones, 41, has opened up about his diagnosis with both dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
He’s following in the footsteps of Steve Thompson, England’s 2003 World Cup hooker, another former Wales international in Alix Popham and others in dealing with the diseases.
Ryan Jones feels his ‘world is collapsing’ after being diagnosed with early-onset dementia
The Post on Sunday understands the number of ex-players diagnosed with early stage dementia and the likely CTE could reach as high as 200.
“I feel like my world is collapsing,” said Jones, who has won 75 caps for Wales and captained his country 33 times.
He also played in all three Tests for the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand in 2005.
Jones continued, “I’m really scared. I’ve lived like a superhero for 15 years of my life and I’m not. I don’t know what the future will bring.
“I am a product of an environment that is about process and human performance. I’m not able to perform like I could. I just want to live a happy, healthy, normal life.
“I feel like that’s been taken away from me and there’s nothing I can do.”
Jones has followed in the footsteps of former England World Champion Steve Thompson
At a massive rugby weekend that saw Wales, England, Ireland and Scotland go head-to-head in the southern hemisphere, Jones’ statement shocked the sport.
Jones won three Six Nations Grand Slams with Wales in 2005, 2008 and 2012 and a league title in 2013. He led the team to those victories in 2008 and 2012.
As recently as 2020, Jones was employed by Welsh Rugby Union and had worked for the governing body as Director of Community Rugby and then Director of Performance.
He was informed of his diagnosis last December.
Jones’ partner Charley described living with the former back row forward as “like talking to my 85-year-old grandpa”.
He believes rugby “goes headfirst into a catastrophic situation with their eyes closed”.
Jones added: “I have three children and three stepchildren and I want to be an amazing father.
“I can’t train harder, I can’t referee. I no longer know what the rules of the game are.
“We don’t know where to go, where to find support. We have no friends in this room.
“It scares me. That’s the fear. That’s the little bit that never works.
‘That’s the little bit I can’t shake.’