Welsh former Rugby Union Flanker

Alix Popham was never afraid to put his body on the line during a successful professional rugby career. Now he is summoning that character to win the greatest challenge of his life.

He started playing the game aged just 4 and would go on to a decorated career representing Newport, Leeds Tykes, Llanelli Scarlets and Brive, as well as winning 33 caps for Wales before retiring aged 30 in 2011.

Almost a decade on he was then hit with the hardest blow of his life - a diagnosis of early on-set dementia, brought on by the countless shuddering collisions out on the rugby field. This devastating, life-limiting condition would not only derail a young man in his prime, but also change the futures of his wife Mel, and his three daughters Holly, 18, Isobel, 15 and Darcey, 4.

Yet Alix has embarked on a mission to seek a better future for himself and others like him. Just as when breaking the gain line on the rugby pitch, spectacular progress has already been made and while there are still some hard yards ahead, momentum is gathering like the roar of the Welsh anthem reverberating around the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

  • Former professional rugby player
  • Devoted father-of-three and wife to Mel
  • Grand Slam winner with Wales in 2008
  • Played in two World Cups (2003 & 2007)
  • Receives diagnosis of early onset dementia in 2020
  • Starts charity Head for Change to change blueprint of contact sport
  • Undergoes pioneering neuro procedure in 2021
  • Ready to inspire and endure in 2023

Alix Popham

My Sessions

The Heart-Wrenching Impact of Contact Sports & Our Campaign to Mitigate Risks in Sport

On 18th October, #RISK Sport will bring together Steve Thompson, ex Rugby World Cup winner and Alix Popham, Welsh former Rugby Union Flanker, to shed light on the risks associated with contact sports.

Both ex Rugby Players have become prominent advocates for player welfare and well-being and are among the 185 athletes suing rugby union’s governing bodies for negligence, claiming that playing the sport caused brain damage.

Steve and Alix will share their personal journeys delve into the inherent risks involved, such as concussions, traumatic injuries, and the long-term impact on mental health.

Drawing upon their own experiences, they will discuss the importance of understanding and managing these risks effectively and discuss various strategies and initiatives that can be implemented to minimize the likelihood of injury and provide a safer environment for athletes.

Day 1: Wednesday 18th October 2023, 14:00 - 15:00BST


Steve Thompson and Alix Popham