Adored for his unique looks and charisma, Sebastien Chabal lived up to his ‘Caveman’ nickname on more than one occasion.
An iconic 16-year rugby union career ended in 2014, but the former France international is still a terrifying sight, even in retirement.
A two-time Six Nations winner, Chabal will be affectionately remembered this summer when the World Cup arrives in Paris, but more by fans, and not his competitors.
One of the country’s favourite sons, and not just in rugby either, the former lock played for Les Bleus between 2000 and 2011, and even expanded his reputation outside of his homeland with a five-year stint for Sale Sharks in Manchester where he won a Premiership title.
However, while becoming one of rugby’s most loved and most feared stars, he also became one of its most controversial.
A stamp on Lawrence Dallaglio in 2006 saw the now 45-year-old receive his first of many bans.
In 2011, while playing for Racing Metro, Chabal was banned for 60 days for criticising referees, which saw him miss the remainder of the season.
Labelling officials from the Top 14 league ‘useless’, he was offered the chance to halve the ban by refereeing youth games, but the following year he left for Lyon where one of his most damning suspensions occurred.
Taking on Agen in the French league, Chabal’s shirt was being held onto by Marc Giraud, and unleashed his Caveman persona.
Overreacting to an extraordinary degree, he turned and punched Giraud, knocking him out cold on the turf.
Thankfully, despite being out cold and requiring a stretcher to get off the pitch, Giraud didn’t experience any further damage, while the aggressor somehow survived with just a yellow card.
A three-week suspension soon followed, though, and it was a nadir of Chabal’s career before his retirement a year later.
Calling time on the only thing you know is almost always a difficult moment of transition for professional athletes, but instead of taking a turn for the worse, Chabal instead showed that his on-pitch persona wasn’t everything.
In 2019 Chabal enrolled at the Lyon Business School, and has since had a successful range of wines.
Alongside that, he continued his competitive edge with poker, but it’s his most lasting pursuit that will be the biggest surprise to his former opponents.
Chabal now campaigns for peace with the Monaco-based organisation ‘Peace and Sport’ which includes a number of global superstars among its patrons.
Lionel Messi and Novak Djokovic are listed among a star-studded list of those who have signed up to the charity’s charter, and Chabal is one member that aims to bring peace and inclusion from the grass-roots levels of sports by delivering speeches and lectures on his career.
Speaking earlier this year he said: “I’m convinced that the group can help build sustainable peace and make this a better, safer and fairer world.”
The messages he puts across surely have more weight coming from such a powerful and intimidating figure, even if some of the victims from his playing career would be stunned to hear them.