Legendary France forward Michel Crauste has passed away at the age of 84.
The back-rower won 63 caps for his country, the record at the time of his retirement, winning four successive Five Nations with France.
And following the announcement of his passing, several major figures of the French game paid tribute to Crauste.
Former France captain Thierry Dusautoir said: “He made entire generations of rugby players dream and inspired them. What a privilege to have been able to share some moments with this man.”
FFR President and former France coach Bernard Laporte added: “Michel Crauste passed away today at the age of 84. A legendary player for FC Lourdais and a former France captain, Michel is a major figure in our sport and his memory will stay etched in our minds. My most sincere condolences to his family and friends.”
⚫️ Vainqueur à 4 reprises du tournoi des #5Nations entre 1959 et 1962, ancien capitaine du #XVdeFrance avec 63 sélections, Michel Crauste s’est éteint aujourd’hui à l’âge de 84 ans. Toutes nos condoléances à sa famille et à ses proches 😥 pic.twitter.com/V0K0jTWMYe
— Fédération Française de Rugby (@FFRugby) May 2, 2019
Crauste started his career playing for the Racing Club and won his first cap for his country in 1957 against Romania, making his Championship bow the following year, playing all four matches in the back row.
Between 1959 and 1962, France won the Championship every year, including a first outright title for France in 1959, with Crauste playing 15 of 16 games.
Les Bleus went on a ten-game unbeaten streak in the Championship during that time, and against England in 1962 at Colombes, Crauste became only the second forward to score a hat-trick in the Championship.
Only Ireland’s CJ Stander has achieved that feat since.
Crauste captained France on 22 occasions, between 1961 and 1966, winning the last of his caps against Italy in April.
He also overtook Jean Prat as the most capped French player of all time, a title he held until Benoît Dauga succeeded him in 1972.
At club level he won the French title with Racing in 1959, and after moving to Lourdes he was again victorious the following year and in 1968, retiring from the game in 1972.
Crauste was made a knight of the Legion of Honour by President de Gaulle in 1966 and that was upgraded to make him an officer in 2010.