Friday, 21 September 2007

Iconic status for Sea Bass

Think John Kirwan in 1987 or Jonah Lomu in 1995, the player who is fast becoming the "face" of the 2007 Rugby World Cup is none other than South Manchester's adopted son Sebastian "Sea Bass" Chabal.

There's absolutely no doubt that the French public have really taken to this larger than life character and that he's very much taken over from Freddy Michalak as the darling of French rugby. That's why it's important for the competition as a whole that France look to have booked at least a place in the quarter finals with their emphatic win against Ireland this evening in Paris(although it's still ridiculous that they will, in all likelihood, have to travel to Cardiff to play the All Blacks).

It's vital for the competition as a whole that the hosts progress to the latter stages and on current form I wouldn't necessarily bet against the French making an impact in the quarters, even against New Zealand. It's equally important that the man who is now very much seen as a talisman for the French team continues to be included. It's not beyond the realms of possibility, however, that the nutty professor Laporte will seek to leave Chabal out. Laporte has never really been convinced by Chabal's qualities, hardly ever selecting him in his best position at number 8. It's absolutely clear that he's not one of France's best 2 locks (nor would he claim to be), but as a number 8, with Betsen and Bonnaire on the flanks, he'd add serious go forward to the back row. He certainly has to be ahead of Harry Ordinary (as Lawrence Dallaglio once described Harinordiquy) in the pecking order.

Just in case Monsieur Laporte is reading this (hey, you never know), here's a very brief reminder what Sea Bass brings to his team:

It's just a shame from an English point of view that he was capped before moving to Sale Sharks - I'm sure he would be a naturalised Englishman by now (although probably isn't old or slow enough to feature anywhere in the English pack at present).

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