Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has branded comments from a French doctor about his concussion record as “inaccurate” and “highly inappropriate”. The fly-half is going through return-to-play protocols ahead of Sunday’s Guinness Six Nations clash with France after suffering a head knock in last weekend’s 21-16 defeat to Wales in Cardiff.

ADVERTISEMENT

Neurologist Dr Jean-Francois Chermann, who recommended Sexton be stood down from rugby for twelve weeks when he was a Racing 92 player in 2014 due to repeated brain injuries, said in an interview with French radio station RMC Sport on Tuesday that the 35-year-old had sustained “30 concussions” throughout his career but he has since retracted that comment and apologised.

“As regards Sexton, we cannot say for certain that he has had 30 concussions,” Chermann told RMC Sport on Wednesday. “I should never have cited this figure without any explanation and I regret the wrong I have done to the player who was my patient and who I respect more than anyone.”

Video Spacer

Video Spacer
Ireland assistant Simon Easterby looks ahead to his team’s clash with France

Ireland talisman Sexton was visibly angered as he hit back at the initial remarks during an emotionally-charged press conference. “I’m pretty saddened and shocked by the inaccurate reports that were thrown out yesterday [Tuesday] “It’s inaccurate and highly inappropriate and I’m pretty disappointed but I am so used to it. It’s almost like water off a duck’s back to me, but for my wife and mum it’s very upsetting.”

Jean Chazal, another French neurosurgeon and concussion specialist, agreed with Dr Chermann’s comments. “I thought there was a patient and doctor confidentiality, I’m pretty sure that exists in the world,” said Sexton. “I just can’t get over the fact someone thought it was appropriate to just come out of nowhere and start saying things that weren’t even accurate, that is the most hurtful thing.”

Sexton said he remains on course to be fit to feature against France and has full trust in Ireland’s medical staff. “I have just got to focus on this week and the return to play and, if I don’t pass one of those stages, I won’t play,” he said. “If I do, I will be fit to play and whether I play or not is down to the coaches then. I trust the medical guys here. They look after us incredibly well and I will continue to trust them.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Sexton has regularly become the centre of attention ahead of meetings between Ireland and France due to his short spell in French rugby. Should he be ruled out of the game, Leinster team-mate Ross Byrne or Ulster’s Billy Burns would deputise in the number 10 jersey.

“It seems to be always the French game coming up that something happens, whether it’s before or after,” Sexton said. “You get used to dealing with these type of things when you are the captain of your country. It’s a privileged position to be in. Sometimes it can wear down on you and you need to be reminded that there’s a lot of people that would swap in for your job, so try and enjoy it, despite all of the speculation and attention.”

Mailing List

Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.

Sign Up Now