Marc Cecillon

The Gladiator

"It was 1977 and Bourgoin were playing Perpignan. We fought like dogs the whole match, and Jacques Tisseyre and I were sent off. He was 36 and I was 17. Caseneuve was the French selector of France A at the time this expulsion cost me the next match against England. He ran after me telling me it was him that got me sent off, not the referee! Laurent Rodriguez, great player that he was, took his opportunity. I was in the cold for 10 years before I received my first cap in 1988."

Marc was a magnificent player and beautiful beast of a man, his 115kgs and 1m 91cm towering over the masses and turning heads everywhere he went. However, we can’t avoid the other gorilla in the room. He struggled with alcohol and depression when he stopped playing, and this path took a devastating turn for the worse when he shot his wife dead in 2004 for which he was initially sentenced to 21 years in prison, subsequently reduced to 14 years. He was freed on parole in 2011 and has been living freely near the French/Spanish border since. He was keen to meet me so we scheduled a time in the winter sunshine in Collioure, spending 3 hours together over lunch discussing rugby, friends, prison and how he is coping with his rehabilitation.

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