Clermont lock Jamie Cudmore: Paul O’Connell hostilities are in the past

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Jamie Cudmore wants to be remembered as much more than just one of the hardest men in rugby.

Canada’s enforcer will captain the Canucks against Ireland in Saturday’s World Cup Pool D opener in Cardiff.

The 37-year-old Clermont lock has flexed his bulging muscles over Europe’s very best for more than a decade now, but hopes neutrals can still appreciate the subtler traits of his trade.

Video by Dan Linehan

Cudmore will renew hostilities with old foe Paul O’Connell on Saturday, insisting he does not expect their feisty 2008 fight to colour proceedings seven years on.

“Nobody wants to be known as a goon right?” said Cudmore, hopeful rugby remembers his full range of talents.

“I think my record speaks for itself.

“Sure I’ve done some stupid things on the field but a lot of people have too. I try to concentrate on my job and do my best to help my team look forward.

“So I’m not too worried about all the rest of it.”

Munster edged out Clermont 23-18 at Thomond Park in 2008, Cudmore’s red card for raining down a volley of haymakers on O’Connell tipping the balance.

Ireland captain O’Connell was handed a yellow card for his part in that fracas, holding off as long as possible before feeling forced to defend himself.

The two warhorses will doubtless go at it once again at the Millennium Stadium, but this week both men have claimed there is no lingering animosity.

Cudmore’s protestations appear genuine as he downplays any personal rivalry with O’Connell, determined not to let the sport’s physical side spill beyond the pitch.

When Munster faced Clermont in France last season, Cudmore presented O’Connell with a bottle from his ’Sin-Bin’ wine range.

The Canada stalwart handed O’Connell a bottle of white and kept a drop of red for himself, in a light-hearted take on the cards dished out back in 2008.

Canada’s chief executive and former fly-half Gareth Rees playfully rolled his eyes as Cudmore started to extol the virtues of his wine business, chiming in: “Here we go…bring on the dancing girls!”

The unfazed second row detailed last year’s cheeky gift to O’Connell to underscore the lack of enmity between the two totems.

“It’s something my wife and I put together last year, and we’re very proud of the product,” said Cudmore.

“We’ve made it tongue-in-cheek by naming it ’Sin-Bin’ with my history in rugby.

“My wife Jen definitely asked me to have a couple of yellow and red cards just to have some marketing!

“It’s a good drop. We’ve got a red, white and a rose.

“Last year after Munster played at Clermont I gave Paul a bottle of white, that we call the ’Yellow Card’ and myself a bottle of red, poking fun at 2008.

“I never really concentrate on one person per se, that’s more for you guys to do, creating your little match-ups, about Paul.

“He’s a world-class player though, and it’s always great to play against world-class competition so I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

Governing body World Rugby have pledged to hand yellow cards to anyone caught diving or simulating injury at the World Cup.

Cudmore may see himself as far more than just a tough guy, but is still determined rugby must not fall foul of football’s diving culture.

“We don’t want to see guys rolling around on the field, because feigning injury is one of the things I hate about soccer,” said Cudmore.

“I actually really like soccer but I don’t like the attitudes in it, so I’ll do my best to make sure that doesn’t happen in rugby.”

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