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Rugby set to hit by ‘shockwaves’ from Jamie Cudmore’s landmark legal case in France

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Rugby set to be hit by ‘shockwaves’ that could push teams towards ‘financial collapse’ if landmark legal case in France concerning concussion goes against clubs

  • Jamie Cudmore has brought a civil case against former club Clermont Auvergne
  • Cudmore claims club exposed him to potential serious injury after concussion
  • A court-appointed neurologist found side were responsible for harm he suffered 
  • Sports lawyer Richard Cramer wary of impact Cudmore’s case could have

A landmark rugby legal case set to be heard in a French court in the coming days could send ‘shockwaves’ through the game and push clubs close to ‘financial collapse’, sports lawyers have told Sportsmail.

Ex-Canada captain Jamie Cudmore has brought a civil case against his old club Clermont Auvergne, who he claims exposed him to potential serious injury by allowing him to play on with a concussion.

In January 2019, a court-appointed neurologist found the French side were responsible for the harm Cudmore suffered and the case has now reached its final stages, with experts warning of possible seismic ramifications for world rugby. 

Ex-Canada captain Jamie Cudmore has brought civil case against old club Clermont Auvergne

Ex-Canada captain Jamie Cudmore has brought civil case against old club Clermont Auvergne

‘All of the sport will be watching this very closely to see what the outcome is,’ Richard Cramer, senior partner at Front Row Legal, told Sportsmail.

‘An independent court-appointed neurologist has already found the club were responsible and that would certainly give Cudmore a lot of confidence.

‘You can’t definitely say that success for Cudmore is going to see a flood of claims being brought because England and Wales is a different jurisdiction from France, but it will send shockwaves through the game.

‘I suspect all of the clubs will now be looking very closely at their insurance policies.

‘They will want to make sure that if claims are brought there is an insurance policy to cover it otherwise, at a very difficult time during the pandemic, clubs could be on the verge of financial collapse if they are faced with significant claims running to hundreds of thousands of pounds.’

Cudmore’s claim dates back to 2015 when he played on despite suffering two suspected concussions in the Champions Cup final against Toulon at Twickenham – two weeks after also continuing following another blow to the head in the semi-final against Saracens. 

Cudmore claims club exposed him to potential serious injury by him playing with a concussion

Cudmore claims club exposed him to potential serious injury by him playing with a concussion

Cudmore claims club exposed him to potential serious injury by him playing with a concussion

The 42-year-old accuses club doctors of exposing him to the potentially fatal second-impact syndrome by failing to implement the correct concussion protocols.

Cudmore said: ‘Even though I was puking in the changing room of Twickenham in the final, I was still allowed to go back on to the field. I now know that was extremely dangerous.

‘I am a person of integrity, I don’t stand for things like that. The club put my life in danger during those two weeks in 2015 and the process is now in front of the courts.

‘I have won every step of the way, which is no real surprise to me because I know exactly what happened. I know they put me in danger.

‘The final stage is now starting this week so we will have to wait and see as to what happens after that.’

Cudmore and ex-England flanker James Haskell are two of the founders of new lobby group, Progressive Rugby, which has written to World Rugby demanding a change of rules to improve player safety.

Jamie Cudmore is pictured in action during the European Cup semi-final match between Saracens and Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham in April 2014

Jamie Cudmore is pictured in action during the European Cup semi-final match between Saracens and Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham in April 2014

Jamie Cudmore is pictured in action during the European Cup semi-final match between Saracens and Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham in April 2014

World Rugby responded in a statement on Thursday, which said: ‘We are open to constructive discussions with them regarding their proposals.’

Cudmore’s legal fight is separate to the class-action lawsuit brought by World Cup winner Steve Thompson and eight other former players, who are suing World Rugby, the RFU and Welsh Rugby for negligence over their alleged failure to protect them from the risks caused by concussions.

But the lawyer acting for that group, Richard Boardman of Ryland Law, is keeping a close eye on the Cudmore case. He told Sportsmail: ‘Even though it is a different legal system, it has a lot of significance for the rest of the rugby world.’

Ben Cisneros, trainee solicitor at Morgan Sports Law and author of rugbyandthelaw.com, added: ‘It’s a different legal system, but it might give an English player confidence that these claims can work.

‘It may well encourage players to look back on things and ask whether they were properly looked after. That would be an interesting thing to look out for.’

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bourbiza

Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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