RENEWED calls for improved player welfare in rugby have been echoed by a young Scot recovering from a serious concussion caused by a head-to-head collision in a game.

Fraser Christie is finally on the mend after a “nightmare” five months, following a clash on the pitch that caused a cheekbone fracture and severe concussion that left him with memory problems, dizziness, insomnia, noise sensitivity and poor concentration.

“I was leaving the house and forgetting why I had left and I had mornings when I woke up and was struggling to speak – that was probably the most scary aspect,” he said.

“I’ve had head knocks before, and after a couple of days any symptoms just passed but this one, unfortunately, kept getting worse. It turned into a bit of a nightmare.”

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Christie, who played schools rugby at regional and national levels and for Glasgow University’s first 15, believes there should be more education in rugby about concussion and its effects.

His decision to speak out follows the revelation that former Welsh rugby captain Ryan Jones (41) has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia.

Calling for more preventative measures to be taken, Jones said: “Rugby is walking headlong with its eyes closed into a catastrophic situation.”

He is part of a legal case against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union. The other claimants are all rugby players with early onset dementia and other irreversible neurological impairments and include former All Blacks prop Carl Hayman and England’s 2003 World Cup-winning hooker Steve Thompson.

It is thought to be the biggest class action lawsuit ever launched outside the US and represents more than 185 rugby union players aged in their 30s upwards.

“This claim isn’t just about financial compensation; it is also about making the game safer and ensuring current and former players get tested so that if they are suffering a brain injury they can get the clinical help they need,” said Rylands Law, who are acting on behalf of the group.

FORMER Scotland and British and Irish Lions player Roy Laidlaw has also revealed he has dementia.

In the face of growing evidence of the link between repeated head injuries in contact sports and long-term brain damage, World Rugby has extended the stand-down period for concussed adult players to 12 days. The earliest permissible return to play date for those under the age of 19 is 23 days post-injury.

Christie, who is from Edinburgh but now living in London, also believes there should be more education about head injuries and concussions, particularly in the senior amateur game.

“In the professional game, I would imagine if someone tells you to come off then you do, but in the amateur game it’s different and requires some self-management,” he said. “The only way to improve that is education.

“Better education might have stopped me going out and socialising on a Saturday post-game, and generally attempting to continue life as usual whilst suffering with ongoing symptoms. But that is on me to proactively educate myself.

“I’m probably part of the generation where concussion wasn’t as heavily featured in the media as it is now.”

The lack of awareness about concussions and how to manage them made his condition worse, he thinks.

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Christie was told by one doctor to give up rugby but his consultant, a sports enthusiast, did not rule it out. Now that he is back at work and has successfully completed a law masters, Christie is facing the future with more confidence but is unsure whether to return to rugby, a game he loves.

“I think about playing most days,” he said. “It is not the be-all and end-all but I’ve done it a long time, been to a lot of cool places and met a lot of my friends through rugby so it is quite difficult to walk away from.

“No one really knows what the-long term consequences might be, but it looks like repeated concussions pose a risk to long-term health given some of the high-profile stories currently in the media.”

Scottish Rugby follows the World Rugby graduated return to play protocols. Scottish Rugby Union were approached for comment.