Former France hooker Marc Dal Maso has revealed he has Parkinson’s disease.

The 48-year-old, who won two Five Nations grand slams with France and was a coach for Japan at this year’s World Cup, said he did not have the degenerative disorder through “chance”.

He told the Midi-Olympique rugby daily: “Let’s just say there are sports which help illnesses like this and rugby is one of them.”

Dal Maso, who coached the Japanese scrum at the World Cup – working alongside Eddie Jones – when the team beat South Africa in their opening pool match, revealed he had decided to go public because people were starting to talk.

“There were rumours doing the rounds so rather than listen to people say stupid things it was better that they know,” he said.

Marc Dal Maso played for France in the 1999 World Cup

He added that the illness had been detected in 2012 but had probably started when he was about 30. He also said he had gone to Japan “to hide” after refusing positions with Toulon and Racing in France’s Top 14.

Dal Maso played 33 times for France between 1988 and 2000 and appeared in the 1999 World Cup as well as winning the Five Nations Grand Slam in 1997 and 1998.

He is set to act as a consultant for New Zealand’s Otago Highlanders in Super Rugby in early 2016.

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