Rugby: Chabal - France's smart caveman

19th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

19 September2007, PARIS (AFP) - France have traditionally had an iconic player in their flair-filled ranks whether it be Jean-Pierre Rives, Jo Maso or Serge Blanco and to their ranks can now be added Sebastien Chabal.

19 September2007

PARIS (AFP) - France have traditionally had an iconic player in their flair-filled ranks whether it be Jean-Pierre Rives, Jo Maso or Serge Blanco and to their ranks can now be added Sebastien Chabal.

Sebastien Chabal, "The caveman"

The 29-year-old has in the past not exactly received plaudits from coach Bernard Laporte but the French boss would be a brave man indeed if he did not select him for the crunch Group D World Cup clash with Ireland here on Friday such has been his adulation from the French spectators.

'The Caveman' is just one of the nicknames he has accrued in recent times for his unfashionably long hair and beard and his two tries against part-timers Namibia last Sunday only served to increase his cult status among the French supporters.

For such an immense person he is remarkably disarming and understated off the field. Not for him the cryptic musings of former France international footballer Eric Cantona and even his choice of car is minimal as he drives a Smart car.

*sidebar1*"Must be a higher roof than usual! Or else they will have to have taken the roof off," remarked one of his team-mates.

With his barnstorming performances Chabal has become the darling of French children, with offers from a chocolate firm, a cereal company and others, but his agent Karine Rossigneux, sister of French team press spokesman Lionel, has rejected offers from construction firms trying to exploit his size.

For their part the French management team have performed a smart u-turn when it comes to assessing Chabal's sudden importance to the team, as the normally back row forward has been included in the squad to be a lock instead.

Laporte acknowledges hat Chabal, who has won 33 caps but have been spread over seven years since he made his debut against Scotland in March 2000, is worth ever penny and that he has made remarkable improvements in his game since he joined English Premiership side Sale in 2004.

"Now he has the capacity to last the whole 80 minutes," said Laporte.

Maso, who was one of France's most flamboyant centres, was understandably more flowing and complimentary about Chabal than Laporte, who was an above average scrum-half for Begles-Bordeaux.

"Four years ago, he was a different player," said Maso, who has displayed remarkable survival characteristics in remaining manager of the French team for three World Cups'.

"It is wonderful, because he is always progressing. Everyone was sceptical apart from us, when we opted to make him into a lock instead of the back row.

"We are delighted with the way he has made the transformation."
 
For the massive scrummager - who has also accrued the monnikers of 'Attila', 'Rasputin' and from the English media 'The French Beast' -  all this is like water off a rather large duck's back.

"So they (the French supporters) chant my name. So what. Lets not talk about it."

And with someone the size of Chabal one does not argue with the point as the Irish will find yet again on Friday.

AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article