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'Huge... rapid... I don't think I've seen a more complete athlete'

By Josh Raisey
Sekou Macalou of France reacts during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between France and Uruguay at Stade Pierre Mauroy on September 14, 2023 in Lille, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Stade Francais centre Joe Marchant has said that he has not seen a more “complete athlete” in his career than his teammate Sekou Macalou.


The Frenchman is nothing short of a modern-day rugby phenom, capable of playing flanker, No8 and, staggeringly, on the wing.

The 1.94m, 102kg powerhouse was perhaps most famously deployed out wide for Les Bleus for 70 minutes against South Africa in 2022, and while he has never been listed as a starting wing by Fabien Galthie, he has this season for Stade Francais.

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Damian de Allende talks about the plaudits heaped on him by his teammates

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Damian de Allende talks about the plaudits heaped on him by his teammates

That is where Marchant has experienced first-hand Macalou’s athletic prowess this season after joining at the close of the World Cup.

Joining Le French Rugby podcast recently, Marchant raved about his teammate, and his disbelief at his lack of playing time for France.

Sekou Macalou
Sekou Macalou

“I don’t think I’ve seen a more complete athlete,” the England centre said.


“Sometimes when you see a back row who’s quite quick, you think they’re probably not that strong or they’re probably not that big when you get up close. He is huge. You stand next to him and you feel tiny.

“He’s rapid. Any speed scores he’ll kill you on all of them, and he’s playing in the forwards and you’re thinking ‘this isn’t really right’.

“You graft as a back trying to get quicker and trying all these things, being able to take people on on the outside and he just does it so easily.

“His try against Pau, he was playing back row at the time but he literally steps someone, does them in a phonebox, then goes on the outside. The fend he put on the winger right at the end, you see international wingers doing that and everyone is like ‘that’s just what they do’. He’s doing that as a back rower.


“I’d love to see him get a really good crack with the French squad, but there’s just so much good competition around.”

Though Macalou was part of France’s World Cup effort last year, he was used sparingly before missing out on the Six Nations. But he has been ever present for Stade Francais this season as they finished the regular season in second place with a 23-20 win over Toulon on Saturday.

Marchant and Macalou both started in the win over Toulon, and will enjoy a week off before returning for the semi-finals.



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