Philippe Sella

Rugby’s Royalty

"I remember playing in a summer tournament called the Mediterranean games in around 1983. It was very hot and none of us was in top shape. At a training session, Jean Pierre took the forwards off for a long hard run. They all came back sweating profusely. Serge, on the other hand, took us for a gentle stroll where we told jokes and messed around. We found a hose pipe and poured water on ourselves to give the impression we had been training hard! That was Serge for you!"

Along with Brian O’Driscoll, Daniel Gerber, Mike Gibson, Jerry Guscott and Didier Codorniou, Philippe Sella is one of the six greatest centres I’ve ever seen. If I had seen them play, I would add André Boniface, Jo Maso and Jean Dauger to that list too. Two Irishmen, one South African, one Englishman and five Frenchman. Controversial, I know, but it’s my team and as chairman of selectors, I can ride roughshod over protocol and fairness, and select who the hell I want! Sella had everything – pace, power, side step, vision and humility. He had cruising belligerence that could destroy his opponents’ defences. I was so excited to meet him, especially alongside the great Daniel Dubroca and faithful Dominique Erbani.

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