‘I didn’t know what I was getting into’ – Antoine Dupont on the brutality of sevens

Colin Newboult
Antoine Dupont in action for France during the World Rugby SVNS series in 2024.

Antoine Dupont in action for France during the World Rugby SVNS series in 2024.

Global superstar Antoine Dupont has admitted the physical demands of sevens has taken its toll, but is still managing to revel in France’s Los Angeles triumph.

After a third place finish in Vancouver on the 27-year-old’s debut, Les Bleus followed that up by claiming their first title in 19 years on Sunday.

They dominated Great Britain in the final to win 21-0 and end that barren spell on the World Rugby SVNS series which stretched back to 2005.

Improving France

Dupont’s inclusion has no doubt elevated the French side, who will be a real threat when the Paris Olympics comes around later this year.

The XVs captain missed the Six Nations to take part in the Vancouver and Los Angeles legs, and he revealed that it has been a brutal couple of weeks on the body.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into by doing two tournaments, especially with the three Saturday matches with getting up at 6am and returning at 9:30pm,” he told reporters.

“These are very stiff days. I was able to test myself in all conditions, play very big matches, have playing time. And now, I will have a good week to rest.

“This sport is incredible. Physical ability has a huge impact, as does the ability to not give up. We saw it against Ireland when we caught the last guy (who would have touched down under the posts), which makes them score in the corner and causes them to miss the conversion.”

Despite being one of the best XVs players in the world, Dupont has full respect for both his team-mates and his competitors, and stressed that it is not about him.

“My role is that of a team player. Besides, I’m learning, I’m not going to make big speeches when it’s only my second tournament. These are high-level athletes and players who are preparing for these events,” he said.

“I felt a lot of relaxation, desire and motivation to leave with this gold medal. It was a strong objective for the group. They’ve been chasing it for a while.”

People will naturally point to Dupont’s arrival as to why France finally claimed a series title, but the scrum-half was keen to praise the overall set-up.

They have gradually improved over the past couple of years and it culminated in their success in Los Angeles.

Combination of factors

“Maybe people will say that but it’s more a combination of circumstances. Last year the team finished fourth overall and I wasn’t there,” Dupont said.

“In Perth, they put 30 points on New Zealand in the group. They are capable of beating any team but also of being good over time, of being consistent.

“In the sequence of matches, this is what we achieved by already having a very good tournament in Perth.

“When I got involved in this Olympic project, it was to get a medal, obviously of this colour. I knew the guys were capable of it.

“They have been progressing for several seasons and, when they are at their best, they are capable of beating all the nations. I knew there was this potential. The story turns for us.”

READ MORE: Who’s hot and who’s not: All Blacks stars shine, Jordie Barrett’s red card and ‘rude’ Bongi Mbonambi