"In that 2nd test match against the All Blacks in 1979, Fred Costes kicked the ball out and the referee blew his whistle for us to win the game. I was so elated that I hugged the referee, John West, from Ireland. He said: ‘Philippe, what the fuck are you doing?’. It was just my instinct in that moment of joy and relief. That evening, there wasn’t meant to be an after match banquet – we were meant to just drink some beers and leave. But we ended up in a restaurant with the All Blacks and got shit faced. We exchanged everything – shorts, ties, underwear….it was an extraordinary night!"
Philippe Dintrans’ name is seared onto my schoolboy memory. He followed in Jean Pierre Rives’ shoes as the next captain of France and did the job brilliantly. He was a great player and a fabulous leader – very competitive, demonstrative, aggressive and talkative, and he never took a step backwards. He was the ultimate competitor and Sean Fitzpatrick talks about him in glowing terms. He still exhibits those strong leadership skills today. I tracked Philippe down at his place of work, a large Renault concession on the outskirts of Tarbes, with the beautiful Pyrenees in the background. We chatted about his former team mates, what it was like to play against their biggest rivals such as Stade Bagnérais and Lourdes, and how the Agen power base made it very difficult for him to reclaim his place following injury.
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