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10th Feb 2021

French neurologist apologises for suggesting Sexton had suffered 30 concussions

Patrick McCarry


“I regret the wrong I have done to the player.”

Jean-François Chermann, the doctor that advised a 12-week break after he sustained three confirmed concussions in less than 12 months, has apologised for speculating on the number of concussions Johnny Sexton has sustained in his career.

Chermann, a neurologist whom Sexton visited in Paris when he was with Racing 92, gave an interview to Midi Olympique in which he stated that the outhalf would be wise to sit out this Sunday’s Six Nations clash with France.

That interview was followed, in France, by another leading doctor and concussion expert, Jean Chazal, telling RMC that the Ireland captain looked like a boxer that had been floored by an uppercut in the 21-16 loss to Wales. The 35-year-old left the field after his head accidentally collided with the knee of Justin Tipuric.

At this afternoon’s Ireland captain’s briefing, Sexton came out with a couple of strong statements on the matter before stating that he would not be answering any more concussion-related queries this week. He commented:

“I’m pretty saddened and shocked by the inaccurate reports that were thrown out yesterday… We’ve been here before and it is very frustrating and, for me, totally inappropriate that someone I had seen [7] years ago now felt it appropriate to come out and talk to whoever it was and say those things.

“I’m pretty disappointed but, for me, I am so used to it that it’s almost water off a duck’s back. But for my wife and mum it’s very upsetting, but that’s the world we live in. I don’t want to talk too much more about it. I just want to focus on this week and the Return To Play [protocols], and all that.”

Jonathan Sexton is attended to by team physio Keith Fox, left, and team doctor Dr Ciaran Cosgrave during the Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium. (Photo by Gareth Everett/Sportsfile)

Dr Chermann has, this afternoon, released a statement to RMC and apologised to the Leinster and Ireland star. It reads:

‘As regards Sexton we cannot say for certain that he has had 30 concussions. I should never have cited this figure without any explanation and I regret the wrong I have done to the player who was my patient and who I respect more than anyone.

‘In my neurological experience of treating more than 1,500 athletes who have suffered concussion, the pivotal elements ruling out a return to action are: the fact of having suffered concussions close together in terms of time, that a previous concussion has taken time to be shaken off [several weeks] and the fact that the player is under 20 years old because there exists a serious risk of suffering an after shock.

‘To be clear if Sexton has not suffered from a concussion for a year, that he is asymptomatic after 48 hours, that the tests carried out are good and that the return to play protocol has been carried out properly, then there is nothing to stop him from playing against France.’

For Sexton’s part, he is hoping to be cleared to train fully with the senior squad on Thursday. Should he get through that in good shape, and without and adverse reactions, the captain will be leading the line for that No.10 jersey.

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