The news that ten former rugby league players are to sue the Rugby Football League for compensation brings into sharp focus the sport of rugby’s continuing problems with concussion injuries.

One of the ten is Jason Roach, the former Scotland full-back whose heart-breaking story is told on the Herald website. That he is only 50 and facing the hell of life with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is truly tragic.

I would be the first to admit that we know much more about the dangers of concussion than we did when I played when the ‘done thing’ was to shake your head and play on. Rugby, both union and league, is now much more aware about concussion issues, and the authorities do take the matter seriously.

After the news broke about the court action, the Rugby Football League issued a statement which said: "As a result of scientific knowledge, the sport of rugby league continues to improve and develop its approach to concussion, head injury assessment, education, management and prevention across the whole game. We will continue to use medical evidence and research to reinforce and enhance our approach."

That’s all well and good, but it is past damage causing present harm which is the nub of the issue that will be decided by the courts. Some of the cases revealed earlier this week are heartbreaking, not least that of Great Britain and England scrum-half Bobbie Goulding. He is just 49 but has been diagnosed with dementia.

 In rugby union there are now more than 175 former players suing the Rugby Football Union, the Welsh Rugby Union and World Rugby stating that they have been left with permanent brain damage because of repeated head collisions and concussion.

You will notice that the court action is against the RFU and Welsh Union and not the Scottish Rugby Union. As far as I am aware no player has yet sued the SRU, but I suspect it is only a matter of time. We have a separate legal system here in Scotland, and players based here could not join in the class action that is going before the High Court in London. A case would have to be taken in the Court of Session, and there is absolutely no certainty of success, not least because the evidence of negligence on the part of the SRU and World Rugby is flimsy.

At this point I should congratulate the SRU and their funders such as the Murrayfield Injured Players Fund and Hearts and Balls – founded by my old club Lismore – on the work they have done in assisting injured players. The SRU’s liaison officer Stuart Dow must also be singled out for praise for his extraordinary efforts over the years.

I also know that the SRU wants this issue resolved, so perhaps they will wait to see how the English High Court action pans out before deciding what to do. 

Just like the RFL, the various Unions can legitimately argue that the laws of the game and the advice given by the authorities was based on the medical view of concussion at the time. The players, on the other hand, can argue equally that the authorities should have known and taken better precautions.

It might come down to this – how does a player prove where and when his brain injury occurred? Or can an individual player prove that an accumulation of concussions left him permanently damaged?

 As a former home and legal affairs correspondent for other papers I won’t mention, I know enough about the law to predict a beanfeast for lawyers and huge uncertainty for the unions. They could be facing legal bills well into six figures and if the cases are lost, the compensation to the players will be in the millions, which presumably will lead to insurers paying out.  

I also predict these cases will run for years and will end up in the UK Supreme Court as the Unions and their insurers will fight the actions all the way – that is their duty, I’m afraid.

Normally I would argue for everyone to get round the table and hammer out an agreement to ensure that players get at least some of what they want. Both sides seem entrenched, however, and I’m pretty sure it will take a court decree to sort it all out.

Meanwhile we are looking at a game at Murrayfield in which big hits are a certainty because Scotland’s opponents are Tonga and they specialise in physical engagement of the tough kind.

Gregor Townsend has been forced to name an experimental side because of the absence of key players, but that may be no bad thing, especially if the likes of Blair Kinghorn can show what he can do in the No. 10 jersey – you can never have enough strength in depth in that position.

No matter the result let’s just hope that all the players come through Saturday uninjured.