Antoine Dupont: South Africa’s introduction means ‘it’s no longer the European Cup’

Adam Kyriacou
Antoine Dupont kicks for a 50:22 for Toulouse.

Toulouse scrum-half Antoine Dupont has admitted that South African clubs’ introduction into the Champions Cup had been “difficult to grasp”.

Dupont, who has lit up the competition over the years, did not hide his displeasure at the route European club rugby’s flagship tournament has headed down.

Speaking at Thursday’s press conference ahead of his side’s pool opener against Munster at Thomond Park, the France scrum-half gave his view on the move.

A bit difficult to grasp

“For purists, it’s a bit difficult to grasp,” Dupont said ahead of Sunday’s game.

Three South African sides – the Bulls, Sharks and Stormers – join the Champions Cup from this season while the Lions and Cheetahs are in the Challenge Cup.

But their introduction has left the excellent France international scrum-half far from happy at the prospect, as he believes it’s tarnished the European flavour.

“Our whole generation has known the legendary European Cup,” he continued.

“It’s a new competition now. It’s no longer the European Cup.

“We have to approach it like that and try to see the positive by telling ourselves that we will play new teams. But it’s a bit hard to understand.”

However, Dupont is still relishing the prospect of locking horns with some of the best club sides in the world as a new Champions Cup is set for its kick-off.

Trip to Limerick first up

“We feel that there is an excitement, a particular flavour,” he said.

“Everyone wants to raise their level and the intensity of their game to be able to compete.”

Toulouse’s first assignment in their European charge sees them travel to one of the competition’s most special venues as a date at Thomond Park awaits.

“The last time Toulouse travelled to a full Thomond Park, it didn’t go very well. We shipped 40 points,” he recalled.

“We know the value that the 16th man can have there and given the history that we have with them in previous European Cups, they will be ready to welcome us.”

READ MORE: South Africa’s welcome pack to Europe: The greatest teams and most imposing venues