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HIS TIME HAS COME

Antoine Dupont is the man of the moment for Toulouse and resurgent France

Every now and again, a player comes around with special ability. An ability that sets them apart from their counterparts. In Antoine Dupont, France might have discovered rugby’s next generational talent. And he stands at the centre of a French rugby resurgence.

Dupont dictates the tempo of the game and lifts the performances of the players around him. Four try-assists (a Six Nations record) on the opening weekend of the Six Nations proved this and prompted Aaron Smith to declare him as the best rugby player in the world. This is high praise indeed for a man with 97 caps for New Zealand, who plays alongside Beauden Barrett and countless other world-class players on a regular basis.

Inseparable from his rugby ball from the time he could walk, Dupont and his older brother were always seen throwing the ball around the small village of Castelnou-Mognoac. Aged 6, Dupont, an avid Toulouse fan, asked for the jerseys of Toulouse legends, Frederik Michalak and Clement Poitrenaud. It was always his dream to play for his boyhood club.

But Dupont’s dazzling ability was almost lost to rugby. Much better than his teammates at Magnoac FC, he preferred the technical side rather than the physical, favouring to run around the contact rather than take it. His motivation waned as he was not being challenged regularly at the standard has was playing at, but he persevered and strived to play at a higher level.

It was at aged 15 that Dupont’s career really began. Offered youth contracts at Toulouse and Auch, Dupont was making waves in French youth rugby. Despite his love of Toulouse and his dream of playing for them, he and his family decided that Auch would be a better destination. Much closer to his home, his parents naturally wanted him as close to them as possible.

Upon his arrival, he was the smallest and youngest player at the club. If you think this would discourage the scrumhalf, you would be wrong. Whilst making huge efforts to improve his physical attributes, his skill on and off the ball came to the fore. Dupont gained many admirers after some stellar performances for Auch in the 2013/14 season. Auch were eventually relegated, but this would be a blessing in disguise for the young Frenchman.

He was given his shot in the TOP 14 by Castres, taking the opportunity with both hands. His TOP 14 performances coupled with a starring role for France in the U20 Rugby World Cup had France’s TOP sides circling around him, vying for his signature. Once the 20-year-old learned of Toulouse’s interest, his mind was made up. The opportunity to fulfil his childhood dream to play for Toulouse was a chance that Dupont was not going to turn to down. In November of 2016, he signed for France’s most successful club team.

2019 would be the year where Dupont would begin to announce himself as a regular for France. Despite making his international debut in the 2017 Six Nations as a substitute, it would be two years later that he would cement his place. He represented France in the Six Nations and in the Rugby World Cup later in the year. It was also a great domestic year for Dupont. He was an integral part of Toulouse’s 2019 TOP 14 winning side, playing every minute in the play-offs.

And he bettered these achievements in 2020.

He was player of the Six Nations after leading a French resurgence, a great European run with Toulouse all backed up with countless TOP drawer performances in the TOP14 saw him draw praise from all corners of World Rugby.

The complete package

Tomás O’Leary

He is an extra-terrestrial. I call him the Martian

Cyril Baille

The guy is on another level! No one is near him atm. He’s the point of difference for both his club and country. He’s helping me look at parts of my game to improve.

Aaron Smith

Still only 24, Dupont’s potential is scary. Many French fans will be looking at him with an eye on the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France. Could he be the catalyst to France getting their hands on the most coveted trophy in World Rugby?

We here at TOP14 love watching him week in, week out! Is he the best player in the world at the moment? If not, who is playing better than him?

Let us know on our Instagram and Facebook channels.

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