Captain a record 34 times between 1977 and his retirement in 1984, Rives' leadership seemed to inspire a discipline often lacking in French teams. The essence of his game was to be always close to the ball, in the thick of the action. His 59 caps - the first against England in 1975 - is a record for a flanker and he led France to the Grand Slam in 1981.
Rives worked until recently for the drinks firm, Pernod, but at 41 has found new expression for his artistry. 'For the last two years I have been sculpting and painting - nothing else,' he said. 'It began 15 years ago really, when I met Albert Feraud, a famous sculptor in metal, and the painter Pierre- Ladislas Kijno. They are my neighbours in Paris now.'
Rives has exhibited in Paris and Toulouse - his home town - and his work will be seen in Los Angeles and San Francisco in April. 'My success is that I am happy doing it, my ambition just to go on.'
He maintains a link with rugby through the French Barbarians, of which he is a co-founder. His American wife, Jennifer Taylor, is a professional singer and