Laurent Pardo

The Silver Fox

"Rugby has to be great fun. We should stop coaching teams and a try should be worth 40 points. Giving your team mate a pass and scoring a try are the greatest things in rugby, not the coaches. I love seeing the kids in the stadia, I want to drink alcohol in proper glasses, sing songs, party with old and new friends, and share stories. But all coaches want to do are training and weights sessions followed by a presentation. Bollocks to that! Haha!"

I must admit, Laurent wasn’t part of my original selection of only 20 players, but virtually every player recommended that I meet him. I don’t like to think that my selection was a democratic process or that I bowed to player power, as Laurent certainly made it on merit, not least because I extended the squad from 20 to 32 players! But he also made it by sheer force of his personality, great humour and team spirit. He is an astonishing expression of vitality. He must have been a fabulous team mate and wonderful tourist to places like Argentina, New Zealand and Polynesia. I would have loved to tour with him. I tracked him down via Jean-Pierre Rives and we spent a wonderful few days laughing, eating and drinking Basque food and wine in Hendaye and Hondarribia, which neighbours San Sebastian. On the Sunday morning, we played touch rugby under the sun followed by a fabulous lunch washed down with a couple of bottles of 1982 Haut Brion from his cellar. Lunch was world class, stellar, magnifique, just like Laurent. He is a big character and very funny man, and he ensures the Corinthian spirit of rugby lives on.

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