Toulouse head coach Ugo Mola says the Top 14 champions are prepared to go the entire 2023/24 season without the services of star player Antoine Dupont.
Dupont is eager to represent his country at the 2024 France Olympics, and his involvement with France 7s would limit his availability for Toulouse.
Dupont’s Olympic dream
In an interview with Midi Olympique, Mola confirmed that Dupont wants to represent his country at the Olympics and understood his reasonings.
“I understand that Antoine, at 26 and after three titles of champion of France, one of European champion, a grand slam, and I hope for a big World Cup, wants to do the Olympics in France,” Mola said.
However, his involvement and preparation with France 7s and the Test team (the World Cup and possibly the Six Nations) means he may not play for Toulouse at all next season, creating a few issues.
“We will have to think, at some point, about when he recovers,” Mola explained.
“We are going to organise ourselves, but we will have to think, at some point, about recovering and regenerating. Physically, sevens is unique, it’s another sport.”
🔴⚫️ Toulouse's celebrations have moved to the water.
🎥 Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack on the beach. https://t.co/0H5nBjvseI
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) June 21, 2023
Mola also confirmed that he and Dupont had discussed the possibility of the influential scrum-half switching to sevens with the France 7s coaches, the Top 14 organisers and the Toulouse president, who were all on board.
And while all parties look to be happy with the idea, there are a few stumbling blocks still.
“With Antoine, Christophe Reigt and Jérôme Daret, we discussed together. The Federation seems open [to the idea], the League and our president too,” he said.
“All the lights are green, but there are other details to settle which are not neutral since.
“A large part of the players’ salaries are provided by the clubs. On our side, we are about to live a half-season or a full season to do without him.”
Dupont is believed to be one of the highest-paid players in the Top 14, and Toulouse will understandably look to be compensated if their star man is unavailable to them for the whole season.
His absence would be a blow for Toulouse’s Top 14 defence next season while they have also been drawn in a fiercely competitive Champions Cup pool along with Cardiff, Bath, Racing 92, Harlequins and Ulster.