Former rugby player Dan Scarbrough has revealed he has been diagnosed with dementia at 43 and said the sport caused the illness.

He said he sought help after becoming increasingly concerned about memory lapses and problems with reading and writing while re-training to be a teacher, two years after retiring from professional rugby.

Speaking to The Times he said it took a few years of investigations before scans and neurology reports concluded last year that he had early onset dementia and probable CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).

CTE can develop when the brain is subjected to numerous small blows or rapid movements - known as sub-concussions.

He said: "I've have to read a page over and over again and it wouldn't go in. I'd watch a film and realise that I'd lost track of the plot completely.

READ MORE: Glasgow University study finds former footballers at higher risk of Alzheimer's and MND

"I'd spend 40 minutes, planning a lesson and go out to do it, and it was completely gone in my brain. I needed a trigger on a piece of paper. That's when I realised I needed to get myself checked out.

"I've had a lot of problems that I kind of accepted as foreseen risk. There was no warning, though, for brain injury. It wasn't something we were educated on."

He has joined more than a 100 former rugby union players in a legal action, calling for additional safeguards in the sport and an aknowledgement from the authorities that professional rugby can lead to neurodegenerative diseasees.

They would like to see better testing for concussion and a limit on contact in training and are also seeking compensation.

Figures show concussion in rugby union affected 20% of professional players in England in 2018-19. The frequency of concussions - measured by the number of incidents per 1000 hours of playing time - was the second highest it has ever been.

READ MORE: Call for football-linked dementia to be recongised as an industrial injury

Six former Welsh rugby players have also diagnosed with early onset dementia, of which Alix Popham is the only one to go public with his diagnosis.

Today, professional players with suspected concussion are removed from the game and cannot return to the field, for at least six days.

In 2019 a landmark study led by Glasgow University found former footballers were five times at risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease and were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative diseases.

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Celtic's Lisbon Lions hero Billy McNeill passed away in April 2019 after a battle with Alzheimer's Disease.

The study prompted the SFA to introduce a ban on children under 12 heading footballs but experts say this should be extended to 16.

Scarborough said there were 'a good three or four months' when he felt as if he was always on the edge of concussion.

He said: "The smallest glance would trigger symptoms again. I've been in games where I lost vision. And when then vision started to come back I was back in the game.

"It wasn't something we thought about. The overriding factor was to be there for your teammates, to win the game.

READ MORE: Billy McNeill Fund to be launched for former players battling dementia

"The decision to play on, was always in our hands. There was no warning for brain injury."

He said his diagnosis 'wasn't a huge shock' but involved difficult conversations with his wife and children, who are aged 9 and 11.

"They couldn't tell me if it could be a ten-year decline, or quicker, or it could last longer.

"Hopefully medical advances will help me. I do that the sad feeling now that there is a ticking time bomb."

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He said that "sadly" he cannot remember large parts of his career, playing for Leeds Tykes, Saracens and the French club Racing Metro.

He is seeking compensation to ensure his family "would be in a reasonable place" if the worst happens but said he doesn't regret the career that caused his illness.

"I might do in ten years time but I have had an incredible life to date. I've been to incredible places and I've met some incredible people. Rugby has made that for me."

He is now head of rugby at Bradford Grammar School in West Yorkshire, where his son is a pupil and also a player and says he's happy for him to play.

He said: "What I will try and educate him on, as I do with all the pupils here, is safety around your body, head knocks."

The Herald is campaigning for fairer healthcare costs for people with advanced dementia.