Former Canadian international Jamie Cudmore has been named head coach of the Pacific Pride Academy, a national high-performance program for young Canadian men's rugby talent.
The 40-year-old native of Squamish, B.C., represented Canada at four World Cups from 2003 to 2015 and remains one of Canada's best-known rugby names around the world. The hard-nosed lock forward played overseas for Llandovery and Llanelli in Wales and FC Grenoble, ASM Clermont Auvergne and Oyonnax in France.
He retired as a player in 2017, working on his coaching skills and speaking out about concussion awareness.
The six-foot-five 257-pounder, who won 43 caps for Canada, is a graduate of the original Pride academy based out of Victoria that participated in the B.C. Rugby Premier League in the mid-1990s to mid-2000s.
The newly reformed Pacific Pride Academy will run approximately 10 months a year out of the Rugby Canada Al Charron National Training Centre in Langford B.C. It will field a team in the 2019-2020 B.C. Rugby Men's Premier League season starting in September.
"Jamie's passion for the game and success as a professional player, and more recently as a coach, makes him a perfect fit to lead the program," Dustin Hopkins, managing director of rugby operations for Rugby Canada, said in a statement.
"I can't think of a better example for young Canadian players than a Pride alumni who went on to both represent his country on the international stage and play for some of largest teams in Europe, and who is known for epic battles against some of the most well-known players in the world."
Cudmore coached at the Clermont Youth Academy and was an assistant coach with Canada at the Americas Rugby Championship in 2016. He served as head coach with Oyonnax in 2017 and most recently was director of rugby for Provence Rugby.
"I was a Pride player back in 2000-01, and it gave me the experience to go off into the world of professional rugby, so I'm very excited to come home and help grow Canadian rugby after all it's given me over the years," Cudmore said in a statement.
"There has always been great talent in Canada, and the structure keeps getting better with more kids getting involved at the youth level," he added. "With dedicated coaching and strong systems in place, I am confident we can continue to grow our player pool, and see success for our national teams while we help fulfil our individual players' professional career goals."
The Pacific Pride will be largely made up of uncapped players from across Canada considered one to three seasons away from playing senior international rugby.
Rugby Canada says the Academy roster will be announced in the coming weeks.
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