Country:  France
H.O.F. Inductee: 1997
Position: Flanker
Date of Birth: 31/12/1952
Place of Birth: Toulouse
Test Caps 59
Test Points 20
Test tries 2
Penalties 0
Conversions 0
Drop Goals 0
When Jean-Pierre Rives retired from international rugby, his valedictory biography was sub-titled A Modern Corinthian. No one quibbled with the description. He was more than a blond bombshell of a forward who seemed everywhere on the field and became his country’s most capped flanker. His name became synonymous with a spirit and courage that was widely admired outside France. The Barbarians invited him on two Easter tours of South Wales and he played for them in prestigious matches against the Lions at Twickenham and the All Blacks at Cardiff.

Jean-Pierre was by no means the biggest of flankers, standing barely 5 feet and 10 inches, but from the very beginning he was a success on the international field. His debut at Twickenham in 1975 resulted in a famous French victory. With him in the back row that day was Jean-Claude Skrela, with whom he was to form an irresistible combination in 25 matches. A great contemporary, Graham Mourie, admired Rives’ approach, courage and commitment but was thankful that he never played against him in tests when he was in tandem with Skrela. In the second part of his test career, when Skrela retired, Jean-Pierre teamed up with Jean-Luc Joinel for another 32 matches.

Corinthians are people who play the game but also develop an aptitude for winning. Jean-Pierre Rives was part of a French grand slam in 1977, a feat that was almost repeated the following year after a titanic, but unsuccessful, deciding match at Cardiff. In 1978 he became captain and was to lead the Tricolours in a record 34 matches before he retired. During that period the successes continued, with another grand slam in 1981 and a near miss in his final international at Murrayfield in 1984.
The peak of Jean-Pierre’s career, though, probably came at Eden Park, Auckland, on Bastille Day, 14th July 1979. There, in the second and final test of their New Zealand tour, a French XV blessed with a freedom of expression imbued by their captain, ran and ran, scoring 4 tries in a famous victory by 24 points to 19. The All Blacks knew that they had come up against a great player.
Jean-Pierre Rives retired from top-class rugby in December 1984. Many can still picture the blood stained face on the pitch but it was the serious shoulder injuries that had caught up with him. He had put his body on the line too often and now it was time to pursue other interests. He was a French Barbarian who became prominent in a new world of art.