Andrew Coombs blasts Newport Gwent Dragons for cancelling medical insurance
Former Wales lock Andrew Coombs has branded Newport Gwent Dragons a "total embarrassment" in a dispute over the termination of an insurance policy.
Coombs suffered a serious knee injury in April 2015 and was forced to retire 14 months later.
Now the 32-year-old insists he feels "disgusted and devastated" at the cancellation of his medical insurance, claiming he has now been left with thousands of pounds in unpaid bills.
Dragons chief executive Stuart Davies insisted in a statement, however, that Coombs received "financial support over and above our contractual obligations".
In a statement posted on Twitter, Coombs said: "Absolutely disgusted and devastated to discover that the Newport Gwent Dragons have cancelled my private medical insurance policy.
"The policy was providing me with ongoing crucial medical treatment from the career-ending injury I sustained whilst playing for the region.
"This was done without the option of personally financing the policy following assurances from the region that this option would be available.
"I'm now left facing thousands of pounds of medical bills to receive essential care not available on the NHS in an attempt to improve my severely impaired knee."
Allied to the statement, Coombs also tweeted: "Player welfare and duty of care to players @dragonsrugby is a total embarrassment. 10 years of loyal service to RP (Rodney Parade), this is how they treat me."
Coombs won 10 caps for Wales between 2013 and 2015, enjoying stints with Pontypool and Newport, while representing the Dragons 80 times in seven years.
The Dragons issued a lengthy statement from CEO Davies on Wednesday afternoon in response to Coombs' claims.
"We were disappointed that Andrew Coombs feels aggrieved that he no longer has the benefit of medical insurance after the termination of his employment," said Davies.
"The private medical insurance policy to which Andrew refers was our group medical insurance policy taken out to cover the costs of medical treatment for players while they are employed at the region.
"Like most employers' medical insurance schemes, cover ordinarily ceases on termination of employment. In fact, Andrew remained covered at our expense for some months after his retirement.
"Andrew's cover under the policy came to an end as we moved towards self-funding the cost of treatment for players in our employment, due to the escalating costs of insurance.
"Consequently, we no longer have medical treatment insurance in place since the money spent on the policy would probably outweigh the cumulative costs of treatment. However, our players still receive the same high level of medical care, but this will be funded directly by the region going forward.
"No assurances were given to Andrew about a transfer of his medical insurance either prior to or after his retirement.
"However, I would point out that significant financial support over and above our contractual obligations was extended to Andrew before he left our employment, in deference to his standing within and long service at the region.
"Like all professional rugby organisations, we also fund the cost of premiums to provide financial support for players who suffer a career ending injury, to ensure our players are looked after financially in the immediate aftermath of retirement in such circumstances.
"In addition, we extended to Andrew at the time he retired, the offer of full and ongoing access to our medical staff and facilities in respect of his continued rehabilitation. This offer remains in place and we will continue to offer whatever support can reasonably be provided.
"We feel that we have acted both professionally and reasonably in our dealings with Andrew, in terms of providing him with every opportunity to return to the team before he retired, and in relation to our ongoing offer of support after his retirement."