2008 Inductee: Philippe Sella

(IRB.COM) Sunday 23 November 2008

 2008 Inductee: Philippe Sella
Philippe Sella helped France to the RWC 1987 final

IRB Hall of Fame - Induction No 11 - Philippe Sella (1962-), France

Personal Details

- Born: 14 February 1962 at Tonneins, Lot et Garonne, France
- Family: Parents Jacques and Francine. Married to Josy, two children, daughter Philippine and son Geoffrey.
- Education: Primary school at Bourran, College in Aiguillon. Lycée in Marmande and Agen (last year). PE student at CREPS de Talence. Graduated as PE teacher in 1984.
- Awards: Knight of the "Ordre du Mérite". Midi Olympique player of the year in 1986/87.

Professional career

A PE teacher until 1995, then a professional rugby player 1996-1998. After his retirement from the game he became a businessman, running his own promotion Agency and Travel Business.

Rugby Career

- Started playing rugby at Clairac in Under 10s in 1971, a Rugby League club.
- Stopped for one season and resumed playing for Clairac Under 12 Rugby Union team in 1973. His first Rugby Union coach was Vincent Millan, a Mathematics teacher.
- Moved to Agen in 1979.
- First match for Agen first team in 1981, went on playing until 1996 (the end of the amateur era).
- Joined Saracens FC in London as a professional player. Played for them from 1996-1998.
- First selection for French Schools against their Scottish counterparts in Glasgow in 1979. Among opponents David Sole and Gavin Hastings.
- France Under 20 in 1981, and France Universities in 1982.
- Played for France A in 1982.
- Debut for France on the wing against Romania on 31 October, 1982. Concussed on his first ever international appearance.
- Played in three Rugby World Cup Tournaments: 1987, 1991, and 1995.
- Played 4 times for Barbarians.
- Played 6 times for French Barbarians.
- Played once for the South Africans Barbarians
- Played for the Northern Hemisphere against Southern Hemisphere and for the Rest against the British Isles during the IRB centenary celebrations in 1986
- Played twice for a World XV against the Springboks in 1989 alongside countryman Denis Charvet.
- His last international match was the RWC bronze medal play-off against England on 22 June, 1995.
- France Under 20 Team Manager at the IRB Junior World Championships in 2008 and 2009.
- Rugby commentator for French TV Canal+.

Career Highlights

- Won the French championship with Agen in 1982 and 1988. Played in three other finals in 1984, 1986, 1990.
- Won 'De Manoir' trophy in 1982 and 1992.
- Won FIRA (European) Under 19 Madrid tournament in 1981.
- Won a silver medal at RWC 1987 and a bronze medal at RWC 1995. Played in the RWC 1987 semi final against Australia, regarded as one of the greatest ever matches played.
- Beat at least once every nation France played against.

Rugby Statistics

- He won 111 caps for France and scored 125 points, including 30 tries.
- He played 103 matches at centre, six on the wing and one at full back. He came on as a replacement in one match.
- Played 13 matches in Rugby World Cups (won 9, lost 3, drawn 1). Scoring 5 tries (20 points).
- His record as a centre (Played 103, Won 63, Lost 35, Drawn 5) with 11 different partners. Played most matches with Thierry Lacroix (24) followed by Frank Mesnel (21), Denis Charvet (17), Didier Codorniou (his first partner) and Marc Andrieu (16), Pierre Chadebech (3), Eric Bonneval (2) and Alain Penaud, Herve Couffignal and Jean Claude Langlade (1).
- His record as a wing (Played 6, Won 5, Lost 1),
- His record as a full back (Played 1, Won 1).
- His record as a Replacement (Played 1, Won 1)
- Captained France in 4 matches
- With 111 caps, he is the second most capped French player behind Fabien Pelous on 118.
- Currently fourth on the all-time most capped player list after George Gregan (139), Jason Leonard (119) and Fabien Pelous.
- Played most matches (50) for France in the Five Nations Championship
- Played in every Five Nations from 1983 through to 1995.
- Won the Five Nations six times: 1983 (shared with Ireland), 1986 (shared with Scotland), 1987 (Grand Slam), 1988 (shared with Wales), 1989 and 1993.
- Shares the French Championship record with Serge Blanco, scoring 14 tries.
- In 1986, he scored a try in every Five Nations match he played in - the fourth man in history to do that after teammate Patrick Estève, England's HC Catcheside and AC Wallace (Australia). Gregor Townsend of Scotland has since become the fifth man to achieve this feat.

Tours and Tournaments

11 France tours and three RWC tournaments:

The 1984 France tour of New Zealand
The 1984 France tour of Japan
The 1985 France tour of Argentina & Uruguay
The 1986 France tour of Argentina, Australia & New Zealand

The 1988 France tour of Argentina
The 1989 France tour of New Zealand
The 1989 World XV tour of South Africa
The 1990 France tour of Australia
The 1991 France tour of USA
The 1993 France tour of South Africa
The 1994 France tour of Canada & New Zealand

The 1987 Rugby World Cup of New Zealand
The 1991 Rugby World Cup of England
The 1995 Rugby World Cup of South Africa

Career record

Played most matches against England (15) followed by Wales and Scotland (14), Ireland (13), Australia and Argentina (11) and New Zealand and Romania (10).


What he said:

Rugby: It is a game, it's about meeting people, commitment, involvement, wellbeing, joie de vivre, efforts. It is happiness, quite simply. This was part of my life and this is still the case today. Even if I am no longer involved in the game on a daily basis, the word rugby, and all that it means and implies, is still in my blood."

« C'est un jeu, des rencontres avec des gens, de l'investissement, de l'implication, du bien-être, de la joie de vivre, des efforts. Du bonheur tout simplement. Cela a été une partie de ma vie et cela le reste encore aujourd'hui. Même si je ne suis plus impliqué quotidiennement dans le rugby, tous les jours, le mot de rugby est prononcé dans mon entourage. Avec tout ce que cela suppose. »

The Family: "My close family is completely involved, immersed in Rugby. Family is important, as it represents a balance, a permanent support. My family is still involved in Rugby. Josy, my wife, adores this sport, just like my daughter Philippine. Philippine even has started a rugby club at her engineering school, Insec, in Bordeaux. She is 23, has 25 girls with her who play Rugby; while for my son, Geoffrey, he plays for Agen in the U19 Crabos competition."

La famille: « Ma famille de sang est complètement plongée, immergée dans le rugby. La famille, c'est important, cela représente un équilibre, un soutien permanent. Ma famille vit toujours dans le rugby. Josy mon épouse adore ce sport, tout comme ma fille Philippine. Philippine a même créé une équipe de rugby dans son école d'ingénieurs, l'Insec à Bordeaux. Elle a 23 ans et a regroupé autour d'elle 25 filles quI pratiquent le rugby; Quant à mon fils Geoffrey, il joue en juniors Crabos à Agen. »

Friendship: "Friendship often comes from things we share with others. From this point of view, Rugby was also important for me because it enabled me to make many friends, to build very, very strong friendships with players, of course, but also with people who shared my vision of life and things. Friendship for me is a very, very strong notion and complements the family. Friends form a circle as important as family. And as Jean-Pierre Rives says it so well, friendship is what's left for the men when the rugby ball is gone, when the ball is not in play anymore. Friendship is the relationship we retain with the players with whom we played together or against. It is what enables us to preserve the heritage of the world of sport. I try to continue to live these strong moments with people I meet, to share moments of happiness with them. But for that, we must try to remain the same person, true to ourselves. Simply, by remaining true to yourself, this is what makes you real."

L'amitié: « Cela vient souvent des choses que l'on a à partager avec les autres. Sur ce plan là, le rugby a également été important pour moi car il m'a permis de me faire de nombreux amis, de créer des liens très, très forts avec des joueurs, bien entendu, mais aussi des gens qui partageaient mon approche de la vie et des choses. L'amitié, c'est un mot qui est très, très fort et qui vient en soutien de la notion de famille. Les amis forment un cercle aussi important que celui de la famille. Et comme le dit si bien Jean-Pierre Rives, l'amitié c'est ce qui reste entre les homes quand le ballon n'est plus là, n'est plus au milieu. L'amitié, c'est ce que l'on conserve avec les joueurs avec qui on a joué ou contre qui on a joué. C'est ce qui permet de conserver des contacts hérités du monde du sport. J'essaie de continuer à vivre ces choses fortes avec les gens que je rencontre, de partager des moments de Bonheur avec eux. Mais pour cela, il faut savoir rester naturel, tel qu'en soi-même. Le fait d'être soi-même permet d'être vrai, tout simplement. »