My five cents on Sebastien Chabal

He's been the man of the RWC. Despite France didn't perform as expected, the image of the World Cup has been that of Chabal facins the haka in the quarter-final game against the All Blacks.

A hero in his homeland, his name is worldwide known. I can give you an idea on how popular is Sebastien Chabal:

  1. His videos rank on the tops spots of the most watched ones.
  2. He's got a nickname in NZ (caveman) !! (as if it were easy for anyone who's not played for the All Blacks to get a nick.
  3. He's known in Spain (you can't possibly imagine how much this fact means, given the fact that rugby has never, nor will ever be, anything but a most marginal sport).

But the question I want to address is: Is Sebastien Chabal that good? Is he a world class player or is he a fake? Is he just popular due to his looks?

Clearly, to be the starting number 8 for Sale Sharks one must have something. Here you can have a glimpse:

Sebastien Chabal takes on Masoe

And here you can watch the action that broke Ali Williams jaw:

Caveman on Ali Williams

This is it. It's pure strength. As a third-rower, Chabal is extremely strong. You can take Jerry Collins, Chris Masoe, Sione Lauaki or Lawrence Dallaglio. He'll be among the strongest ones. This gives him an edge at the breakdown or when tackling, but from a rugby point of view, that's all. If you want quickness and hability Rodney So'oialo is far quickest, Richie McCaw is much more technically gifted.

But France lacks a real leader nowadays, a leader like Serge Blanco at the end of the nineties. England has got Wilkinson, South Africa has Matfield or Habana, Australia has had a few of them, etc... but what has France got? How did Les Bleus enter to the World Cup? We can recall Le Monde's interview to a France staff member: "Au niveaux des All Blacks sur le plan physique". France's weapons were laid on physicallity and that left Chabal as their true star.

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