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Dublin: 11 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019

'Subbies' not Super Rugby for Sebastian Chabal's Oz odyssey

The Caveman is going to play rugby in Australia alright, but he’ll be much further down the food chain than you would expect.

Chebal following in Matt Giteau's footsteps
Chebal following in Matt Giteau's footsteps
Image: Rob Griffith/AP/Press Association Images

SEBASTIAN CHABAL CAUSED something of s stir yesterday.

The cult bearded figure left Racing Metro last week after a row with coach, Pierre Berbizier, and cryptically told radio station RMC:

“I can confide something to you, I will play in Australia soon. That is all I can say. But there is nothing official so far.”

Without adding anything further, ears were pricked and all five Super Rugby teams issued a collective shrug of their shoulders.

The Melbourne Rebels, the newest and weakest Australian franchise, were thought his most likely destination, but they denied the link via Twitter.

Now however, Australia’s Daily Telegraph has revealed that ‘the Caveman’ is not bound for Super Rugby, but ‘subbies’ rugby.

The 62 times capped French international has agreed to one-week deal with second division side, Balmain, from the suburbs of Sydney

Incredibly, Chabal’s appearance for the side, against Petersham, will form the curtain raiser for the Super XV opener between the NSW Waratahs and the Queensland Reds on 25 February.

Balmain president, Warren Lingstone said of the coup:

“We had a spot in our international roster with Matt (Giteau) now playing in France. We looked for the biggest profile rugby player in the world and that’s Chabal.”‘

“We contacted them in December about him coming over to play some games in between when the French season finished and when the new one started. I sold him on seeing Australia in between the games”

He may be something of a figure of fun on these shores since he and his Sale Sharks side were sent packing from Thomond Park, but Chabal remains a hugely marketable icon of the sport.

Whilst with Metro he was amongst the highest paid players in world rugby, pocketing €1 million per annum and would possibly provide a boost to flagging attendances in the southern hemisphere.


Though the 34-year-old would no doubt welcome an offer to play amongst the SANZAR elite, no club has yet admitted an interest in taking him on.

Josh Philpot, coach of reigning champions the Reds, offered the best insight saying: “He was the most expensive player in the French competition. We couldn’t afford him.”

The Rebels have the greatest scope for taking on an extra marquee player as the have special dispensation as a developing franchise.Yet they along with the Waratahs and the Western Force have denied the link.

That just leaves the ACT Brumbies.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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