Why Antoine Dupont will side-step the Six Nations to play sevens
Why France captain Antoine Dupont will side-step Six Nations and Top 14 to play sevens despite being one of the world’s best players in 15-a-side game…
- Antoine Dupont is regarded as the best player in the world in the 15-a-side game
- He was named French national player of the year and TOP14 player of the year
- Dupont will miss Six Nations to feature in France sevens team on world circuit
Antoine Dupont admitted the ‘mythical’ lure of bidding for Olympic glory on home soil was something he couldn’t ignore after revealing his reasons for moving into sevens rugby.
France captain and scrum-half Dupont is widely regarded as the best player in the world in the 15-a-side game but is making the move to his sport’s shorter format.
Dupont will miss this year’s Six Nations with France and mix playing with his club Toulouse with featuring for his country’s sevens team on the world circuit.
‘I still have ambitions in 15’s. I don’t want to retire from the sport just yet,’ said the 27-year-old, who was unable to stop France exiting this year’s World Cup at the quarter-final stage.
‘I’ll be playing in the play-offs with Toulouse. I can spend time with sevens but also keep my objectives with Toulouse. I hope to be lifting the TOP 14 trophy again.
Antoine Dupont is widely regarded as the best player in the world in the 15-a-side game
‘We’ve been trying for several months with the club, the federation and France Sevens to give me the opportunity and the resources to try and take part in these Olympics.
‘I now hope to perform well. For any sports fan, the Olympics remain mythical.
‘The fact we are hosting the Games in France means it’s going to be an incredible party to hopefully be a part of.
‘To be able to hopefully challenge for an Olympic medal is incredibly motivating for me.’
Paris will host the 2024 Olympics a year after hosting rugby’s 15-a-side World Cup.
Dupont will start training with France’s sevens team in January. His decision to step away from the Six Nations is a big blow to his country’s national head coach Fabien Galthie.
Dupont will miss the Six Nations to feature in theFrance sevens team on the world circuit
‘I’m going to have to make sacrifices to spend time with this team and get used to this special game and discipline,’ said Dupont.
‘I’m hoping to be at my peak and challenge at the Olympics.’
On Monday night, Dupont was named both French national player of the year and TOP14 player of the year at a glittering awards ceremony in Paris.
Sonny Bill Williams, Bryan Habana and Justin Tipuric are three examples of players who have moved from 15-a-side rugby to sevens but it is rare to see it happen given the transition is not easy. Dupont admitted it will take time for him to adapt to the shorter format despite his undoubted class.
‘At the start of January there will be an informal meet-up with the sevens group so I can get to know everyone,’ he said.
‘When you see the effort the sport demands, I’ll certainly need a period of time to adapt. I haven’t thought about changing fundamentally. My game has evolved and my personality has too.’
Dupont’s upcoming transfer is certainly a boost for sevens rugby which doesn’t have anywhere near the same popularity as the full game.
Dupont was named both French national player of the year and TOP14 player of the year
But it also robs France 15-a-side coach Galthie of one of rugby’s few true global superstars. Maxime Lucu will be the man to step in for Les Bleus at No 9 so long as he stays fit.
Experienced back-row pair Charles Ollivon and Gregory Alldritt are the leading contenders to replace Dupont as France captain for the 2024 Six Nations.
‘We lost Romain Ntamack (for the World Cup) who is one of our key players and we managed to keep going so we will do the same,’ said Alldritt of Dupont’s sevens move.
‘But of course when you miss the best player in the world we will have to have an adaptation. All the rest of the team will have to improve their level.’
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