Big Tabacco overawed by 'bodybuilders'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 March, 2010, 12:00am

When, like Patrick Tabacco, you are 1.98 metres tall, weigh 98kg and have represented France 18 times - including at a World Cup - the occasions on which you are awed by the physique of other players are rare.

But when the former Stade Francais forward turned up for his first training session at Hong Kong Football Club with the KIR Club Pyrenees side ahead of this week's GFI Hong Kong Football Club Tens, the towering Tabacco was struck by the size of the opponents he and his teammates will face when tournament kicks off today.

'In France we don't really put enough resources into sevens and in the 10s, it's similar. Most of the players are used to playing 15s and what worries us is that we saw during training some teams that are very, very strong,' said Tabacco.

'They are like bodybuilders and those are likely to be teams who focus on playing 10s and know how to play and develop themselves physically to play at their maximum. This is not the case for the Pyrenees.'

Having reached the semi-finals of last year's competition, the Pyrenees side are sure to attract more attention going into this year's tournament than 12 months ago as they line up against perennial participants such as Aliens, Samurai and Penguins.

So, despite the France national 15s side having just clinched the grand slam in the Six Nations, Tabacco does not believe either the Pyrenees side or the French sevens team are likely to be taking home any of the main prizes during the week.

In fact, although the French are now considered the strongest of the teams from the northern hemisphere, he even downplayed the country's hopes of success at next year's 15s World Cup in New Zealand.

But that could be due to the fact that he is trying to take the pressure off both himself and his teammates because, by his own admission, the French perform better when they are the underdogs.

'Each time we are outsiders and not the favourites, this is the best for the French,' said Tabacco of next year's World Cup, but which could as easily be referring to this week's challenge.

'When we have the pressure of being favourites, we don't know how to manage this kind of pressure. If we come in as outsiders, we can win.'