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Antoine Dupont Leads France to Sevens Glory for the First Time in 19 Years

Credit: Dylan Coetzee/Getty Images


The 2021 Rugby Player of the Year, Antoine Dupont, who is widely regarded as one of the best international rugby players in the world, guided France to their first rugby sevens tournament win in 19 years this past weekend in Los Angeles.


The Dupont effect was in full force this past weekend, as the Paris 2024 Olympic hosts beat Great Britain 21-0 in the final at Dignity Health Sports Park to land their first title since winning the Paris Sevens back in 2005. Dupont, playing his second sevens tournament ever after guiding France to a bronze medal in Vancouver last weekend, demonstrated his natural rugby talent all weekend, scoring numerous tries while having an impact on nearly every try France scored. 


Dupont, a 15’s player, made the transition to sevens after declining to represent his home nation of France in the ongoing Guinness Six Nations tournament. It seems Dupont has his sights set on leading the French sevens team into the 2024 Paris Olympics, aiming for one of the highest honours in all of sports, an Olympic gold medal. It took Dupont just two sevens stops to win his first gold with France, as it seems his presence has energised this France team which has moved up from seventh to fourth in the overall sevens standings. 


“I got involved in this Olympic project to go get a medal, obviously this colour (gold),” said Dupont in his post-gold-medal-match interview. “We’re all focused on this, on busting a gut. We’ve got a few months and tournaments to go. But we’ve all got this target in mind with the objective of doing something special.”


France so far has looked like a brand new team with the addition of Dupont. The intensity has risen, the physicality has risen, the team chemistry seems to have improved and there is no doubt that the will to win is much stronger. However, this comes as no surprise to French fans and rugby sevens fans around the world, as Dupont has been the heart of France Rugby for years now.


Antoine Dupont Thumbs Up

Credit: Luke Baker/Getty Images


It’s not as if Dupont has just all of a sudden exploded onto the scene with this France sevens squad, as he has been a mainstay and the leader of France Rugby for the past 4 years. 

Dupont is originally a 15’s player. He was called up to the French 15’s squad in 2017 ahead of France’s fourth 2017 Six Nations Championship match against Italy as a replacement for Maxime Machenaud. He officially made his debut for the France International squad that game, replacing Baptiste Serin in the 72nd minute of an eventual 40-18 away win. Dupont has held a place on the France 15’s squad since then but really began to gain traction as a player following the 2020 Six Nations Championship. 


France finished runner-up in the 2020 Six Nations Championship, losing to England on point differential. However, the brilliant scrum-half lit up the tournament and was crowned Player of the Tournament after scoring three tries and being involved in nearly every offensive attack France made. He continued his international dominance with France, winning the highly coveted World Rugby Men’s 15’s Player of the Year after leading France to a flawless Autumn Nations Series and another second-place finish at the 2021 Six Nations Championship.


In 2022, Dupont led France to a much-deserved Six Nations Championship victory, being awarded player of the tournament again for the second time in his career which would effectively make him only the third player in history to win the award more than once. He was also once again nominated for the World Rugby Men's 15’s Player of the Year award but came up just short of Ireland’s Josh van der Flier. In 2023, Dupont would win another Six Nations Player of the Tournament 2023, which would make him the second player in rugby history to be crowned three separate times. 


Dupont, based on his merit and performances for his country, would be named captain of the France international 15’s team heading into the 2023 World Cup. France were favourites to win the Webb Ellis Trophy, however, after a disappointing loss to the South Africans in the quarterfinal, Dupont shifted his focus to Olympic gold with the sevens squad.


Antoine Dupont Running

Credit: Adam Davy/PA


Dupont is a winner. It seems wherever he goes, he carries this winning aura with him that rubs off on his teammates and warrants success. Dupont made the transition from 15’s to sevens look easy, but in no world should that be a seamless transition as the two are completely different games. Sevens is a quick, physical, fast-paced game that requires brute force and sheer athleticism to succeed. 15’s requires more of a methodical approach, with game plans and tactical plays drawn up for each phase of play. 


However lucky for Dupont, he fits both of those descriptions. After winning nearly everything there is to win in 15’s, besides the Rugby World Cup, it seems Dupont is ready for a quick stint in a different format, where he can win other accolades and potentially secure himself an Olympic gold medal. Although he is showing that he fits right in with the sevens crowd, there is no doubt that he will return back to 15’s once this season and the Olympics are over. 


If Dupont manages to carry the success that France realized this past weekend over to the Olympics, it will easily be one of the greatest feats ever accomplished in rugby history, which is something only a player of Dupont’s calibre could achieve.



Edited By: Josh Reidelbach




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