Sea Bass is the new French National dish

  • Andrew Cotter
  • 5 Feb 07, 08:22 AM

Andrew Cotter"He's impressive with ball in hand. No doubt about it," said my co-commentator Phillip Matthews before the Italy-France game. "But he does have a tendency to drift in and out of games."

I nodded wisely, but silently, since the object of our attention, Sebastian Chabal was standing just a few feet away, looking like an enormous, brooding version of Captain Caveman.

The criticism has been levelled at Chabal before and, for all his talents, Bernard Laporte has never really warmed to the giant, furry creature known affectionately by supporters of his club Sale, as 'Sea Bass'.

Incidentally, I know it's inspired by his own name, but could Chabal not have a nickname more suited to his terrifying form? It's like calling Martin Johnson 'The Monkfish'.

I know in France they call him 'The Anaesthetist', but that's not much better. Suggests a successful and respectable member of the medical profession. Scary.


Anyway, I digress. For the dreaded Sea Bass, Saturday's game may just have been a turning point.

In fact, it may have been a turning point for the whole French team.

Yes, Italy were poor, so no-one should read too much into their victory. But winning five tries to nil in Rome with an experimental side has to be applauded.

And some of the experiments clearly worked. In our infinite wisdom before the kick-off we were also questioning Laporte's decision to leave Dimitri Yachvili on the bench, preferring instead the tiny figure of Pierre Mignoni at scrum-half.

Well, if Chabal hadn't stolen the show with a couple of tries then Mignoni would certainly have been man of the match, his lack of size more than made up for in speed of hand and feet.

He and Sea Bass complimented each other beautifully. Mignoni spotting a half-gap and making the break. Then finding his big chum to finish the job. A Little and Large act for the new millennium. Except probably funnier...

The partnership between Mignoni and fly-half David Skrela also worked well enough, but there were some warning signs for France with tougher tests ahead.

Skrela's place-kicking was poor and without Yachvili in the side the responsibility for keeping the scoreboard ticking over falls entirely on him.

In far closer matches Skrela's wayward boot may prove costly. What a match now lies in store at Croke Park next Sunday. Ireland will certainly be aware of the dangers of Pierre Mignoni.

And they might well hope that Sea Bass is off the menu...

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:39 AM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Frenchy wrote:

Hi ! About S├ębastien Chabal's nickname : never heard him being called "the Anaesthetist", but rather "Cartouche", is that better ?

  • 2.
  • At 02:49 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • jamie collins wrote:

I thought Sebastian Chabel looked more like Jesus.

  • 3.
  • At 02:57 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Russ Worden wrote:

I took my girlfriend to see our local club, Sale, play and upon seeing Chabal in the flesh for the first time she declared;

"My god, they have a cave troll!"

Since then the nickname has stuck with great affection.

  • 4.
  • At 03:16 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Ben Wright wrote:

On Sunday's coverage of possibly the most entertaining rugby for many years, you mention a competition to win Plasma Tv's & such like by nominating your chosen club. To find more details we are told to log onto Could you possibly give clearer instructions as I have been looking for 2 hours & am still not having any luck.


  • 5.
  • At 03:56 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • robin wrote:

I'm pretty certain Seabass is a reference to a character from Dumb and Dumber. And not a fish.

  • 6.
  • At 04:38 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Stocky wrote:

He does have another equally fearsome nickname, although infrequently used. Mr Tickle, due to his excessively long arms, he can almost touch his knees without bending over!

  • 7.
  • At 04:43 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • oliver brett wrote:

Sea bass, in French, is "Loup de Mer", which in turn translates as "Wolf of the Sea". In that sense, I think it's a brilliantly appropriate nickname.

  • 8.
  • At 04:52 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Stocky wrote:

He does have another equally fearsome nickname, although infrequently used. Mr Tickle, due to his excessively long arms, he can almost touch his knees without bending over!

  • 9.
  • At 05:35 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • JNGF wrote:

I have to say that I disagree with the BBC commentator for the France v Italy International last Saturday who stated that Serge Betsen had had a quiet game. From what I could see Betsen was all over the park active in nearly every tackle being made and also secured a some useful lineout ball for France. Was this BBC commentator confusing Betsen with Julien Bonnaire by any chance whom I did consider was somewhat anonymous in the match, as was the Italian back row with the exception of Mauro Bergamasco?

  • 10.
  • At 05:51 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Robin wrote:

I'm pretty certain that the nickname Seabass comes from his similarity to a character from Dumb & Dumber. And not a fish. I'm hoping it has nothing to do with the fact that Seabass likes to indulge in late night man on man rendez-vous in service station toilets!

  • 11.
  • At 05:58 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • DennisL wrote:

Chabal V Best?

Oh please let EOS pick Best against him. Easterbuy can come on if the line-out needs a pick-me-up. Clash of the titans or what!

  • 12.
  • At 06:56 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Rowan wrote:

he was also described by one rugby journalist I read as 'the only half man half yak in the premiership'

  • 13.
  • At 06:59 PM on 05 Feb 2007,
  • Rowan wrote:

he was also described by one rugby journalist I read as 'the only half man half yak in the premiership'

  • 14.
  • At 02:00 PM on 06 Feb 2007,
  • Helen Watson wrote:

Mr Chabal as he is called in my family is just an awesome player. It was an amazing sight to see him run out in a France shirt and then rampaging thru the Italians. I think he really is a big game player. I've raved on about him to friends (they are sick of me talking about him) and on saturday they finally discovered what I was on about.

We are so lucky to have him playing over here in England.

I hope Bernard Laporte is kicking himself for not playing him in the autumn internations against the All Blacks.

Roll on to Ireland, and I hope he does the same there.

I just hope he doesn't turn up against England. (Being and England fan) ...

Allez les Bleus and what not!

  • 15.
  • At 01:13 PM on 12 Feb 2007,
  • Emmanuel wrote:

When Chabal first arrived in Sale, Philippe St Andre called him by the popular french abreviation of Sebastien: Sebas. The english understood this as "Seabass". From that point onwards, he was known to his teammates and later the sale supporters as Seabass. In other words, the other Sebastien of Sale, Sebastien Bruno could have easily inherited of this nickname, but it instead went to Chabal.
Allez La France

  • 16.
  • At 05:32 PM on 14 Oct 2007,
  • jowge wrote:

i think he looks like jesus on steds

Post a comment

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them. Please note that submitting a comment is not the same as making a formal complaint - see this page for more details.

Required (not displayed)

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites