More players from the France XVs side could well join superstar Antoine Dupont in playing sevens, with a view to featuring in the Olympics.
The star scrum-half is extremely keen on representing his country in one of the biggest events on the global sporting calendar, which will next take place in 2024 in the French capital.
According to Midi Olympique, Dupont will be joined by three further Test players in the squad, with Arthur Vincent and Sekou Macalou two of those being lined up.
The final spot will reportedly be contested by wings Damian Penaud and Louis Bielle-Biarrey, who featured in the same back three during France’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat to South Africa.
Dupont’s Sevens desire
Dupont first revealed his Olympic ambition in March 2022 in an interview with Paris 2024 board member Alexandre Mars.
“It’s really something that motivates me,” he told the Pause podcast.
“Just doing the Olympics, it’s so incredible, when you’re in front of your TV and you see all the events that follow one another, with this patriotic fervour.
“It’s so strong.”
There are obviously stumbling blocks, however, with all the relevant parties needing to be aligned for the superstar to be able to achieve his dream.
“It’s not just me who has to agree, they have to agree, my club has to agree too,” Dupont added. “We have to talk about it with everyone at the table, but my will is there, that’s for sure.”
That has since become more and more likely, with his head coach at Toulouse, Ugo Mola, preparing for life without Dupont this season.
He played for Les Rouge et Noir in the Top 14 at the weekend – his first match since the World Cup – but it is unclear how much of the campaign he will feature in.
“I can understand why Antoine, at 26 and after three French championships, a European Cup, a [Six Nations] Grand Slam and – I hope! – a World Cup, would want to play in the Olympics in France,” Mola said in June 2023.
“Antoine, Christophe Reigt and Jerome Daret and I have been talking. The Federation seems open [to it], as do the league and our president, too. All the indicators are green.
“But there are other details to sort out, because a large part of the player’s wages are paid by the club.
“We’re getting ready to spend half a season or a full season without him.”
Six Nations chances
With the Olympics on the horizon, that has raised questions as to whether Dupont will play for France in the Six Nations.
The scrum-half is Les Bleus’ linchpin and, since 2022, has taken on the role of national team captain, but he could well be absent for the northern hemisphere’s showpiece tournament this year.
At the moment, his availability has yet to be decided, but Le Parisien have previously reported that he could skip the competition to focus on sevens.
Should that happen, it would become increasingly likely that Vincent, Macalou and one of Penaud or Bielle-Biarrey would also miss the 2024 Six Nations.