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Jamie Cudmore was sacked as Canada’s assistant coach on Friday night after he celebrated the failure of his country’s women’s sevens team to reach the quarter-finals of the Olympics.
Cudmore, the former Canada captain who played in four World Cups before retiring four years ago, had written a string of offensive posts in apparent response to the team having made complaints that led to the departure of their head coach in the build-up to the Games.
They also spoke up before the Olympics about racial and cultural inclusion and the historical treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada. At the start of the Games the team appeared at a virtual press conference wearing matching shirts that read “BIPOC Lives Matter” above a Rugby Canada logo, in support of black, indigenous, and other people of colour.
“Karma is a b----! #Survivorsmyass,” Cudmore initially tweeted before sharing an image flagged by Twitter as “potentially sensitive content”. Mocking Canada being consigned to a play-off for ninth-12th place - they would eventually finish ninth after beating Kenya 24-10 on Saturday morning - he added: “I think someone should decolonize 9th place tomorrow.”
He earlier tweeted “LFG [Let’s f------ Go] China” in support of the Chinese team, who needed a big win over Japan to qualify ahead of Canada, which they duly produced.
Responding directly to Cudmore on Instagram, sevens player Charity Williams, who is black, posted: “I wanted to take this moment to talk about our performance and how proud I am of this team beyond any result. Because I am, and what we accomplished this year is far greater than one weekend. What this team stands for and who we have become means that young female athletes across Canada can play their sport and feel safe. I’m proud of that.
“But instead I have to sit here once again and share what we’ve been going through as a team. The consistent hatred we have received from people in our own organization. I’m only sharing because this is what we have been dealing with for months. From private texts, to public stalking online and in person. The bullying and harassment that we have received for coming forward is outrageous & scary at times. This is the reason we called for an internal investigation because we haven’t been safe.
“But still, with everything, we have pushed through tears, pain, & joy, all of it to get us here. It’s not the result we wanted but we worked f------ hard.”
Commenting on Cudmore's sacking and the "recent social media postings which were unacceptable and in breach of organization policy", Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen said: “We are taking this matter very seriously and concluded that immediate action must be taken."
Rugby Canada Board chair Sally Dennis added: “Rugby Canada’s core values, including integrity and respect, must be exemplified in all our rugby programs and we are determined to promote a healthy, inclusive culture now and in future.”
Rugby Canada had said before Cudmore's sacking: “Rugby Canada stands with our women’s 7s athletes. We support the team in their efforts both on and off the rugby pitch and are proud of the way they have represented our country.
“Our organizational values include solidarity and respect, and everyone on our staff is expected to help create an inclusive environment for all. We condemn any inappropriate comments directed at the team and our leadership will be meeting to address this matter immediately.”
Cudmore, who deleted his offensive posts, apologised on Twitter, writing: “It’s [sic] was an emotional event for a good friend I let that get the better of me.”
This year has seen the 42-year-old embroiled in a landmark legal case against former club Clermont Auvergne after he accused them of failing to prevent him playing on with concussion during the 2015 Champions Cup final at Twickenham.
After their final game of the tournament, Williams' team-mate, Pamphinette Buisa, wrote in a lengthy Instagram post: "We came, we saw, and we conquered, with roots from the Democratic Republic of Congo with a rich ancestry of strong Black and resilient humans. I can proudly saw, MAMA IM AN OLYMPIAN, I did it for all of us - and I thank God for all of it."
She added: "Our team went from dealing with internal investigations to recovering from COVID, to unpacking what it means to represent this nation while learning more about the past and the ongoing violence and genocide across these lands to the Indigenous communities, and so much more. Through all this, we pushed through, trained, and kept our heads down. But, today I can say confidently that our heads are held high."