Jamie Cudmore has labelled France the black sheep of the rugby world when it comes to the treatment of concussion. The former Canadian international is currently involved in a feud with Clermont, the club he represented for eleven years.

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That row dates back to 2015 and surrounds Cudmore’s involvement in the Heineken Champions Cup semi-final and final matches where he suffered head knocks but was permitted to play on, exposing him to the potentially fatal ‘second impact syndrome’. 

Speaking to RugbyPass on the latest edition of The Lockdown, the pandemic interview series hosted by Jim Hamilton, Cudmore recalled the initial moment when he found himself in trouble in St Etienne during a semi-final for Clermont against Saracens. 

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Former Clermont and Canada enforcer Jamie Cudmore guests on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series

“Midway through the first half I came flying into a ruck at the same time as Billy Vunipola, so it was basically like two rams butting heads. 

“We literally hit the ruck at the exact same time, two heads, bang. We were both kind of there on all fours and like the cartoon bird with lights flying above our head. I wasn’t in a good space.”

Cudmore was allowed to return to the pitch in that game and the same thing happened in the final despite another early bang.

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Now back coaching in his native Canada, the former second row enforcer takes no chances with any of his own players who suffer a head injury. They are taken off – and stay off, an approach that is different from his own experiences in France.

“France have really struggled to adapt with the new data round concussion and they are kind of the black sheep in terms of World Rugby and how they are trying to be progressive around the problem,” claimed Cudmore. 

“It comes down to education and attitude. I have had similar situations coaching with Canada where I have seen where players might be concussed or be injured in a certain way – you don’t even think about it. Unfortunately, he is out and it’s warm-up the next guy. 

“If it is a concussion, if it’s a head injury, he’s done and that comes really from education. If guys are educated around the dangers of that they are not going to take the risk. 

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“But you are exactly right, doctors, coaches, there is so many different pressures on those people in those high-pressure situations that a lot of times they will try to do what is best for the team as opposed to what is best for the athlete.” 

In the 20-minute interview, Cudmore also recalled his infamous dust-up with Paul O’Connell versus Munster in Limerick and the short-lived rugby career of his talented brother Daniel, who quit the game in preference of a successful acting career where he has gone on to star in the X-Men film series. 

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