18-09-2015 | Wales flanker retires from rugby due to epilepsy ‘from multiple head traumas’

'18-09-2015 | Wales flanker retires from rugby due to epilepsy ‘from multiple head traumas’' image

Wales international forward Jonathan Thomas has been forced to retire from rugby on medical advice at the age of 32.

In a statement, his club Worcester said that Thomas was diagnosed with epilepsy last year "which is thought to be from multiple head traumas and has led to a degree of brain injury."

Thomas won 67 Wales caps between 2003 and 2011, won two Six-Nations titles and played in two World Cups.

Talking about his decision to retire, Jonathan said: 'I've done everything in my power to keep playing. However, there comes a point when you realise you need to listen to medical experts and also do what's best for your well-being.

'I am keen to stress there are many different types of epilepsy, and I'm fortunate to only suffer from it in a mild way compared to some. Naturally though, it has proved too difficult to continue as a professional athlete'.

In the week that the Rugby World Cup begins in England, the news is another stark reminder about the impact of head injury and concussion in rugby and in sport generally.

'At the elite level of the game, I think the unions and medical departments of clubs do a great job and have a great understanding, but I still think it's the players who need more educating about the warning signs' he said.

Jonathan has also indicated a desire to get involved with charity work to raise awareness of head injury, seizures and epilepsy. A huge amount of work needs to be done to raise awareness of epilepsy not only in the sporting arena, but also among the general public. High-profile sports stars such as Jonathan can be instrumental in achieving this.

We commend Jonathan for taking his decision and we wish the very best in his retirement – hopefully 'Team Epilepsy' will be next to benefit from his invaluable experience.

See also:

Jonathan Thomas discusses epilepsy and his retirement on Newstalk's Off the Ball

Epilepsy & Sport booklet