Sale find a body double for Chabal

Hole left by departing French giant to be filled by 'baby brother' Abraham

When Sébastien Chabal leaves Sale at the end of this season, after five years honourable service, life for the Sharks without this rampaging bull of a man will not be the same. But the outlook may not necessarily be quite as bleak for the club as it might at first appear.

Sure, the return to France for family reasons by Chabal will leave a huge hole in the squad, the dimensions of which are approximately 6ft 3in and around 18st. But a canny signing in the summer by director of rugby Philippe Saint André may actually have gone a long way to filling in that hole already.

Chabal, whose shoulder-length jet black hair and piratical black beard, which have made him an icon in France – his picture was everywhere on billboards and posters during the 2007 Rugby World Cup – will be leaving behind someone who bears an uncanny resemblance to him.

"Ah, my baby brother," grinned the Bourgoin-born Chabal, referring to Saint André's summer signing. "Luke Abraham, he is like my brother. My little brother."

And, at a distance and in Sale colours, Abraham is a dead spit of Chabal. At 25 Abraham, who joined from Leicester, is six years Chabal's junior, but he arrived at the club already sporting flowing black locks and an equally black beard, so he was halfway to being a clone of Seabass, as Chabal is known.

The good thing for Sale fans is that the French cult hero has taken the youngster under his wing. "I don't do one-to-one training sessions with him," explained Chabal, "but we spend a lot of time talking together, yes. I like the way he plays rugby."

So does Saint André, who could not believe his luck in landing Abraham. "Luke Abraham is a fantastic player," said Saint André, who is also scheduled to leave Sale at the end of the season.

"I watched him last year in his first 12 games for Leicester and he was fantastic but after that he was not picked at all," the director of rugby said.

Saint André foresees a bright future for Abraham. "We have worked a lot on his fitness and I think he is a great prospect for England as an openside flanker."

Sadly, after emerging with a deal of credit from last weekend's thrilling clash with Bath, when he came up against – and was not outplayed by – one England flanker, Michael Lipman, Abraham has lost the chance to display his qualities against another England player, Wasps' Tom Rees, in today's match.

On Christmas Eve Abraham was suspended for two matches by Sale after they had studied a DVD of the Bath match, and his place will be taken by Neil Briggs.

Despite this setback, Chabal will still be able to rest easier knowing that he will be departing the club having left them a near life-size replica of himself as a legacy.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea