Most Irish sports fans will remember Jamie Cudmore best for his infamous fight with Paul O'Connell in Munster's Heineken Cup clash with Clermont Auvergne in 2008.
The Canadian spent most of his career with Clermont, where he played for eleven years and won a French Top 14 title. Cudmore is currently plying his trade with Oyonnax in the Top 14 and at the age of 38 it is probably fair to say that he has had his fair share of physical knocks throughout his career, especially given his particularly abrasive playing style.
And one of these knocks has resulted in Cudmore taking legal action against Clermont.
In an interview in the 'Mail on Sunday' Cudmore reveals that in a Champions Cup game for Clermont against Saracens in April last year, he was allowed by the French side to return onto the field of play despite having failed the 'Head Injury Assessment' that is outlined under World Rugby regulations.
Cudmore told the Mail that he clashed heads with Billy Vunipola of Saracens and was taken off the pitch to be told by the doctor, "You're done...c'est fini".
He describes what happened next:
So I walked back into the changing room and I hadn’t even got my boot off when I heard the door open and the Doc comes back in and says, 'Jamie, Jamie, how are you? Sebby (second row partner Sebastien Vahaamahina) is not good. Can you come back on? You gotta come back on'. I was like, 'Yeah, sweet', and tied my lace and went straight back out.
Under the World Rugby regulations - which were enacted into law on August 1st, 2015 - concussion protocol dictates that "any clear or suspected symptoms of concussion must result in immediate and permanent player removal", that "if a player is suspected of concussion following a pitch-side assessment supported by the HIA they are removed permanently from the match".
Cudmore then played in the Champions Cup final against Toulon a couple of weeks later in Twickenham. Now under the 'return to play' protocol in accordance with the new regulations, players are slowly eased back into playing after suffering a concussion in a game. At the time of the final the regulations had yet to pass into law but the trial period for the regulations was in action (for example in that year's Six Nations, where Sean O'Brien was taken off for a Head Injury Assessment against England). Against Toulon Cudmore was knocked out in the opening moments of the match, only to once more come on again and be substituted late on in the game, vomiting in the changing rooms after he was taken off.
The risk to Cudmore when coming back onto the pitch is illustrated by the tragic case of Ben Robinson, a young rugby player from Ulster who died in hospital after being allowed back onto the pitch multiple times after being treated for blows to the head. The coroner in his case termed the cause of death 'Second Impact Syndrome' - in other words, multiple blows to the head within a short period of time.
Cudmore is taking legal action against Clermont as a result of their negligence in allowing him back onto the pitch after sustaining such serious injuries. And he tweeted after the 'Mail' article was published that he would not be seeking any financial reward as a result of the action. Finances from any successful case would finance the 'Rugby Safety Network', developed by Cudmore and his wife to try and support players with concussion.
— Jamie Cudmore (@JNCudmore) September 26, 2016
Cudmore is not the first player to take a case against his club over concussion - Irishman Cillian Willis became the first player to instigate such proceedings last year when he accused Sale Sharks of "clinical negligence".
Rugby could be set to follow a similar pattern to American Football, where thousands of former NFL players were awarded up to $5 million each in a settlement with the League, which they accused of hiding the issue of concussions in the sport.