Place of Birth: Tonneins, February 14, 1962
Internationals: 111 caps between 1982 and 1995
Inducted: England v France (August 11, 2007)
The following article has been adapted from the original by Dai Llewellyn, which focused on two players. It has been changed to highlight only the selected inductee’s information.
Throughout his career Philippe Sella was a prolific try-scorer, although he set up many more than the 30 he scored himself. He marked the 1986 season by scoring in all four Five Nations Championship matches, a feat then matched by only two other players, Frenchman Patrick Esteve and Howard Carston Catcheside.
Sella marked his entrance into the Five Nations Championship by scoring a try in his first match in the tournament – against England at Twickenham in 1983. It was the third and final try, the one that clinched victory.
For six years Sella and France just could not lose against England, home or away. France had won Sella’s first match against England 19-15. Four years later, in 1987, they repeated the feat and once again Sella was among the scorers, bringing his total of tries against England to four. They were happy days at Twickenham, especially for the Agen threequarter.
But as the 1980s drew to a close so did the winning streak. In their next matches against England France lost every game from 1989 to 1995, and Sella remained try-less.
But he did have a hand in the celebrated try in 1991, when the two unbeaten teams met at Twickenham for the Championship and a Grand Slam.
The move started behind the French posts after Simon Hodgkinson’s penalty had sailed wide. Pierre Berbizier caught the ball then paused, debating what to do with it. Serge Blanco looped around, Jean-Baptiste Lafond took it upfield and linked with Didier Camberabero, who found Sella lurking like a pike in weed over on the right wing.
The French centre held up play momentarily to allow everyone to catch up and then returned the ball to Camberabero, who chipped ahead, re-gathered then launched a cross kick into the middle of the pitch.
Philippe Saint-Andre steamed up, took the ball on the bounce and ran in under the posts. Never mind the players involved, it left the crowd breathless. It was a wonderful move to have been involved in and it serves as one simple reminder of just how great Sella’s career has been.
If further evidence is needed, later in that same match he was at it again, this time combining brilliantly with Franck Mesnel and Blanco to conjure up another brilliant try for the former.
Article by Dai Llewellyn