CARDIFF (Reuters) - Jamie Cudmore has been described as a custodian of rugby’s traditional values and the abrasive Canadian second row is planning a good old-fashioned upset over Ireland at the Rugby World Cup this weekend.
The Clermont lock, playing in his fourth World Cup at the age of 37, will captain his country in a Pool D clash at the Millennium Stadium that few give Canada any chance of winning.
Canada coach Kieran Crowley, however, said his side had their eyes only on a win on Saturday and Cudmore agreed they had the quality to hold their own against the Irish.
“Over the last summer, we have played some great rugby against some great competition,” Cudmore told a news conference.
“And as I said to the boys, we can compete with the best in the world. We’ve just got to hang onto the ball and play some good rugby. We have some really good young talent out there.”
Canada will also play France, Italy and Romania in Pool D.
It was Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, a former assistant at Clermont, who said the Cudmore embodied the values, as well as some of the bad habits, of rugby’s pre-professional era.
It was a description Cudmore was happy to embrace.
”I think in rugby, those amateur values are the basis of rugby in itself,“ he said. ”Having a hard fought game and shaking hands and having the respect of the opposition.
“Maybe having a beer after the game, maybe, maybe not, but that’s extremely important. If we lose those values moving forward in a more professional era, it’s a sad day for rugby.”
Cudmore’s “bad habits” have led to a string of suspensions for violent play over the years but Schmidt said it was wrong to view him merely as a one-dimensional enforcer.
Again, unsurprisingly, the Canadian agreed.
“Nobody wants to be known as a goon, right? My record speaks for itself,” he said. “Sure I’ve done some stupid things on the field but a lot of people have too, so I try and concentrate on my job.”
Cudmore’s Irish counterpart on Saturday is Paul O‘Connell, the other player involved in one of the more notorious incidents of a career littered with them.
During a European Cup match between Clermont and Munster, the two hulking locks exchanged punches in a brawl which recalled an era before citings or yellow and red cards.
It being 2008, however, Cudmore was shown a red card and O‘Connell a yellow.
That allowed the Canadian to make a tongue-in-cheek gift to O‘Connell last year illustrating the range of the “Sin Bin” wines he and his wife produce in the Auvergne region of France.
“We’ve got a red, a white and rose,” he laughed.
”Last year, after the Munster game in Clermont, I gave Paul a bottle of yellow and me a bottle of red.
“My wife has asked me to have a couple of yellow and red cards (at the World Cup) just to do a bit of marketing.”
Editing by John Geddie