The best french rugby player of all times

NBorn on 31 August 1958 in Caracas to a Basque mother and a Venezuelan father, Serge Blanco is considered France's best ever rugby player and one of the greatest players in the history of world rugby. Having only played for one club, Biarritz Olympique, this unclassifiable and incomparable player still holds the record for the highest number of tries (38) scored for France with 93 caps between 1980 and 1991. A very informal title best sums up what he represents for rugby: he was nicknamed (and will eternally remain known as) the "Pelé of rugby".



Serge Blanco commence sa carrière en 1974 au Biarritz Olympique, à qui il restera fidèle tout au long de sa carrière. A compter des années 80, il est unanimement considéré comme le meilleur arrière de France, voire du monde. Son talent fait de lui une cible privilégiée pour ses adversaires, à une époque où le rugby est bien plus rugueux qu’aujourd’hui.

Serge Blanco started playing for Biarritz Olympique in 1974 and remained faithful to the club throughout his entire career. From the 1980s, he was universally regarded as the best fullback in France, if not the world. His talent made him a prime target for his opponents, at a time when rugby was much rougher than it is now.

While he caused a sensation in the French league, Serge Blanco left an indelible mark on the international stage, playing against the world's best. In the blue jersey with its rooster crest, he won a total of six Five Nations championships (1981, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989), a competition he referred to as "magical", including two Grand Slams (1981 and 1987), i.e. one quarter of all Grand Slams ever won by France to date! He also triumphed twice at the Mediterranean Games (1979 and 1983) but his career culminated with the most prestigious of events: in 1987, rugby finally created its World Cup, the first of which was organised in New Zealand. Serge Blanco, at the top of his game, was in resplendent form, from the first round match against Scotland where he scored and converted a touchdown in the 79th minute, allowing France to claim a draw and avoid the mighty All Blacks in the quarter finals. His ultimate masterpiece however was achieved in the semi-final against Australia, where he scored the winning try to top off a breathtaking move. The World Cup runner-up takes pride of place in the rugby hall of fame. A star among stars, Serge Blanco was nonetheless a team player, drawing his inspiration and experiencing his greatest joys within the group. What he remembers above all else about this glorious New Zealand campaign is "an exceptional experience, the feeling that, for the first time in our life as a team, as friends, we laid ourselves bare to share our suffering...".

At the twilight of a career rich in titles and achievements, Serge Blanco's individual accomplishments are even more impressive. He is France’s record try scorer (38) and third most capped player, with a massive 93 caps, 17 of which as captain. Voted France's player of the year six times (1982, 1983, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992), a highly informal title best sums up his contribution to rugby: this unclassifiable and incomparable player will remain the "Pelé of rugby", a durable nickname he earned on the pitch.