Sebastien Chabal, the hard man with a soft heart - Ruck

Sebastien Chabal, the hard man with a soft heart

Sebastien Chabal was not a man to mess with in his successful rugby union career. Known as The Caveman, the French international was one of the toughest players around. Off the pitch, though, it’s a different story. This is someone who wants world peace, plays poker and has business management qualifications.

Now aged 45, Chabal played professional rugby union for 16 years as a number eight and lock. He didn’t just play for French clubs Bourgoin and Racing Métro 92 but also in England with Sale Sharks, with whom he won the English Premiership. He played 62 times for France, winning the Six Nations Championship twice.

With his long hair and full beard, it’s unsurprising that he was nicknamed The Caveman. This is no Fred Flinstone, however. That distinctive and slightly frightening look has seen him receive many product advertising offers. Fans loved him, and Chabalmania was born.

There weren’t many rugby players who appreciated the hard-hitting tackling that Chabal soon became known for. However, his tough, take-no-prisoners attitude on the pitch differs from that shown away from the rugby union world.

A quieter hobby

A long list of sports personalities enjoys chilling out with a poker game. Chabal can be included on that list, and it’s a far safer game than rugby union. His opponents around the poker table must be glad they won’t receive any of his infamous tackles.

Chabal will have spent time learning what beats what in poker while travelling to away games. Those long hours spent on coaches will have given him plenty of opportunities to improve his game. This led to him playing in online tournaments, and it’s clear that poker is a game that he adores.

There may be no need to start tackling other players, but you can’t take away the aggression he showed during his rugby career. He’s a player who will take chances and force the pace to win hands. That’s important to him as he regularly plays in charity tournaments, which all go towards his aim to help others.

You might not initially think there are many links between rugby union and poker. Both are competitive games, and you can’t take that attitude away from a player once he retires from his primary sport. Concentration is essential in both games; losing focus for a short while can lead to costly errors. 

Other rugby players who have also shown an appreciation for poker include Mike Tindall, Dylan Hartley and Delon Armitage.

Business and world peace

Retirement isn’t easy for sports stars. Recently former boxer Kell Brook admitted to having problems coping with the situation. For Chabal, it’s been a switch from trying to ensure opponents don’t get past him to a safer approach to life. One that has seen him enter the business world and champion peace.

2019 saw Chabal study at the EM Lyon Business School. He also has an exclusive range of wines (well, he is French).

Like many sports stars, Chabal is regularly invited to give speeches. It’s not all about how to deliver a crunching tackle. He’s spoken about the mental preparation that is required if you want to be successful. Subjects such as team building and coping with retirement are other topics he gives an insight into.

When being tackled on the pitch, not many players would have thought Chabal was someone who campaigns for world peace.  They just wanted to get off the pitch in one piece. Since his retirement, Chabal has become one of over 110 members of the ‘Champions for Peace’ organisation. 

Based in Monaco, this was formed by Peace and Sport. It consists of famous players committed to “serving peace in the world through sport.” Many of its members are role models; hopefully, the message they put across might produce positive change in our world. 

The former French international says he is “convinced” that the group “can help build sustainable peace and make this a better, safer and fairer world.” That’s a challenging task, like France winning the Six Nations this year. Other members include Lionel Messi, Paula Radcliffe and Chris Froome. 

Retirement has been good so far for Chabal. He’s shown that it is possible to be successful in other fields. If his work with Peace and Sport is successful, we may all have something to be thankful for.