Greatest XV Profile: Yannick Jauzion

Yannick Jauzion 7/2/2010
What do Andy Nicol, Tommy Bowe, Lee Bryne, David Flatman, Tom Shanklin, Andrea Masi and Mike Phillips all have in common?

What do Andy Nicol, Tommy Bowe, Lee Bryne, David Flatman, Tom Shanklin, Andrea Masi and Mike Phillips all have in common?

The answer? They all picked Yannick Jauzion in their Guinness Six Nations Greatest XV.

A Rolls-Royce of a centre, Jauzion won 73 France caps, two Grand Slams and three Championship titles. But, despite being regarded as one of the best in the world, he was perhaps still underrated.

Indeed, eyebrows were raised when then-France head coach Bernard Laporte faced the media ahead of the 2006 Six Nations.

Asked how Brian O’Driscoll’s return from injury would affect Ireland’s Championship chances, Laporte nonchalantly said: “Of course O’Driscoll is important to Ireland, just as Wilkinson is to England…and Jauzion to France.”

To celebrate the Six Nations’ 20th anniversary, you can form your Greatest XV on the Guinness Six Nations app and choose from more than 150 players, including Yannick Jauzion.

The son of a farmer, Jauzion grew up knowing the value of hard work. At 6ft 4in and 17 stone, today he might be pigeon-holed from a young age as straight power runner – muck like his former teammate Mathieu Bastareaud.

But Jauzion had more strings to his how. Boasting dexterity with his hands and nimbleness with his feet, he was a balletic, graceful centre who had the ability to beat defences with his brain as well as his brawn.

France boasted perhaps the best collection of wingers in the Championship through the mid-2000s. Aurelien Rougerie, Christophe Dominici, Cedric Heymans and Vincent Clerc all scored tries aplenty.

Without Jauzion’s creativity and passing ability, with his right hand or left hand, long or short, they would surely all have scored less.

Nicol, Bowe, Byrne, Flatman, Shanklin, Masi and Phillips are all part of an exclusive club. But the biggest question is perhaps why aren’t there more members? Yannick Jauzion was, after all, one of the true greats.


Born in Castres, Jauzion emerged at the beginning of rugby’s professional era but he also started out part-time.

Toulouse became Jauzion’ home but it was Colomiers, the city’s second club, where he began his career, splitting his time playing rugby with studying for a degree in agricultural engineering.

Still, talent such as his never stays quiet for long and Colomiers’ bigger brother soon came calling in 2002.

By then, Jauzion was already a three-time international, having started two Tests against South Africa and another against New Zealand in June 2001.

With Toulouse, Jauzion made an immediate impact, helping them to their second Champions Cup triumph in 2003.

That turned into a special season for the inside centre, who warmed up for the World Cup with three tries in three games for Les Bleus, before a hat-trick against Fiji in the tournament itself.

France bowed out to England in the semi-finals but France and Jauzion rebounded strongly.

Almost three years after his international bow, Jauzion made his Six Nations debut in 2004 and he marked it with a try in a convincing 35-17 home victory against Ireland.

Clerc, Pascal Pape and Jean-Baptiste Ellisalde also scored that day, while the mercurial Frederic Michalak landed six kicks. All young, all hungry and all at the top of their game.

Jauzion played at outside centre, alongside Damian Traille, as France put Italy and Wales to the sword. He struck again in Round 4 against Scotland, crossing for two tries at BT Murrayfield in a 31-0 win that set up a Championship decider against England.

Les Bleus got revenge for that World Cup defeat, with a 24-21 win clinching the Grand Slam.


After 18 Test matches in two years, Jauzion was among the world’s best.

It helped that he played for a Toulouse side of whom former England head coach Brian Ashton once said: “It’s rugby on a totally different level to what anyone else plays, even the All Blacks, who play in a different way.”

However, injuries became a niggling factor in 2006 – keeping Jauzion out of the Championship as France glided to another title – but he was back the following year, scoring two tries as Les Bleus successfully defended their crown. Add in another Champions Cup with Toulouse, and Jauzion was quickly building a bulging trophy cabinet.

Perhaps his most famous performance came against New Zealand at the 2007 World Cup, a game which still ranks among France’s best.

France were tournament hosts and, after an opening-game defeat to Argentina, had slowly built momentum through the pool stages, including a fine victory against Championship rivals Ireland.

New Zealand, the pre-tournament favourites and No.1 side in the world, stood in the way of France and a semi-final appearance.

The All Blacks made a hot start but France hit back after half-time, with Thierry Dusautoir’s try. Still behind on the scoreboard, France went for the jugular deep in the second half and found it when Traille passed to Michalak, who burst clear of the defence and off-loaded to Jauzion to score. It’s still regarded as one France’s most famous tries.


England thwarted France in a World Cup semi-final yet again and flattered to deceive in the next two Six Nations campaigns, finishing with three wins in both 2008 and 2009.

Jauzion remained a key part of the team, starting all five matches in the 2009 Championship, and when 2010 came around they were once again among the favourites.

He also had a new midfield partner to work with and Mathieu Bastareaud caught the limelight straight away with a two-try display in the opening-round victory against Scotland.

Not to be outdone, Jauzion – by now 31 – scored his first of the Championship in victory against Ireland the following week, and France’s momentum built from there.

They won away at Wales and then at home to Italy and England for Jauzion’s second Grand Slam title.

He made only five more Test appearances after that, including three in the 2011 Championship, before he was dropped for the 2011 World Cup squad.

He retired two years later, as one of France’s and the Guinness Six Nations’ all-time greats.

To celebrate the Six Nations’ 20th anniversary, you can form your Greatest XV on the Guinness Six Nations app and choose from more than 150 players, including Yannick Jauzion.