Laurent Rodriguez

The Taurine Warrior

"All these stories about us taking drugs were absolute nonsense. In 1986 in Nantes, the ABs said we came out with evil in our eyes and so concluded we’d taken drugs. That wasn’t the drugs – that was a combination of raw garlic, coffee and aspirin!"

Laurent was the first former player I met on a beautiful sunny day in Cambo-Les-Bains in November 2017. I felt nervous not just because this was my first interview but he was such a physically imposing man and, in my view, the greatest number 8 in the world for much of the 1980s. I turned up late and his hotel was closed. Damn it, I thought, before I realised he had sent me a text asking me to call him. A few minutes later, a huge silhouette of a man appeared. I shook his enormous hand, its shape and broad fingers were the size of a baseball glove. I spent a fabulous two days in his hotel, listening to him recount tales about the Battles of Nantes, the 1987 RWC, Jacques Fouroux, rugby fights and court cases, and coaching in Sicily during the riots in 2007.

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