Chabal set to leave Sale for France

Sebastien Chabal says that he could leave Sale and England in order to play in France which is his country of birth at the end of the season.

Chabal is famous around the world for his caveman looks rather than his rugby skills but has established himself as something of a cult hero at Sale’s Edgeley Park since he made the move from Bourgoin in 2004.

The thirty year old says that he may have to take family considerations into account and end his time at Sale next year, after speaking at length with Sale director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre about the matter last week.

“As it stands, I am under contract with Sale until 2011, with that last season an option,” he told the Manchester Evening News.

“Personally, I want to stay at Sale where I am playing at the heart of a very good team.

“I feel good there, but there are personal reasons which mean I could return to France.”

“My wife and my kids live in England. They haven’t moved away.

“But my eldest is studying in France and it is true that my wife, who has also stayed in France with the little one, hasn’t come back since the end of the (summer) holidays.

“At the moment, I am coming and going and it is weighing on me.”

“If I have a family, it is to live with them. So that is bothering me.” he added.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to speak about it so early in the season but it was Philippe who brought up the subject. He said: ‘You can’t continue like this. You could return to France next season.’

“It was just an idea thrown out there by Philippe.”

Recently Chabal turned down a big offer from the big-spending French club Toulon as well as others from New Zealand and Japanese clubs.

A move to France however is considered to be the most likely option but his agent Miguel Fernandez said: “For the moment, we have had no contact with any French club.”

When Chabal moved to Sale it was Saint-Andre that turned him from a flanker to a number eight and the former France captain Saint-Andre believes that the welfare of his player is paramount and is under no illusions that Chabal will remain at the Stockport-based club after this season.

“I had an honest and frank discussion with Seb some days ago,” said Saint-Andre.

“There is no problem with him on a sporting level. It’s a question of problems outside the game, an estrangement from his family which is weighing too heavily on him.

“He will finish the season with us and he will leave. We can’t keep a player against his wish and stop him from being happy.”

Even though he does not play his game in France Chabal is still one of the most famous sportsmen in France and he had an enormous following in the Rugby World cup in 2007.

Whenever he returns to France to play for Sale he is mobbed by fans so Saint-Andre can see why a French team would want to sign Chabal.

“What is sure is that he is a monument and that he is more famous in France than in England,” Saint-Andre added.

“When you have Chabal in your team in the Top 14, if you are good at marketing and you are selling number four or number eight shirts with his name on the back, it would surprise me if you won’t sell at least 10,000.”

Chabal has played for France 30 times and scored five tries. He was a member of the French touring squad that visited Australia in June.

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