Well-travelled Scotland back row Luke Hamilton and Canadian international winger Taylor Paris have been unveiled as new signings by Oyonnax, the promotion-chasing French Pro D2 outfit.
Hamilton was one of 20 players listed in early June by Bristol who would be leaving the Bears before the resumption of the suspended 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership season.
He has now pitched up in France, a country he has previously experienced while on the books of Agen, the club he joined after making the breakthrough at Cardiff Blues.
A 28-year-old forward, Hamilton returned to the UK after two seasons, joining Leicester and going on to make a November 2017 Test debut for Scotland versus New Zealand.
After winning two more caps the following June, he joined PRO14 club Edinburgh for the 2018/19 season but returned to England last summer to make nine Premiership and Challenge Cup appearances for the Bears.
— Oyonnax Rugby (@OyonnaxRugby) July 7, 2020
His one-year deal at Oyonnax, which has the option of a second, now mirrors the contract agreed with Paris, the Canadian who debuted at Test level as an 18-year-old in 2010. It was two years later when he commenced his European club adventure, initially joining Glasgow for a season before switching to Agen where he played with Hamilton. He then joined Castres, winning the 2018 Top 14 title with them.
Having played for Canada at the 2019 World Cup, he is now throwing his lot in with Oyonnax, the club that have been yo-yoing between the Top 14 and Pro D2 in recent times. They were in the hunt for the promotion playoffs, lying in fourth place before the Pro D2 season was cancelled in March due to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.
Speaking to RugbyPass last summer, Hamilton revealed his thoughts on the concussions he had suffered in his career. “We’re kind of the guinea pigs because no-one really knows what the concussions are doing to you,” he said. “You don’t know how many concussions it’s going to take for your brain to get damaged.
“I don’t think people realise how scary they are. You don’t want to be looking back 20 years and thinking, ‘Yeah, I shouldn’t have played that game, I’m still having headaches’. When you’re playing, you don’t think about concussion, but when you get one, especially a long one, you sure think about it then. You can have a lot of things replaced, but the brain’s one thing you can’t.”
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