Who’s hot and who’s not: ‘Inevitable’ Antoine Dupont as Leinster remain ‘the bridesmaid’, and potty-mouthed coach

Dylan Coetzee
Antoine Dupont, Jack Conan and Rob Penney.

Check out our latest hot and nots list.

It’s time for our Monday wrap of who has their name in lights and who is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons after the weekend.

THEY’RE ON FIRE!

Antoine Dupont: He is just inevitable. The brilliant scrum-half produced a sensational performance, guiding Toulouse to a sixth Investec Champions Cup title, picking up the player of the match award, and soon after was named the EPCR Player of the Year. The Toulouse skipper rightly received widespread praise for his game-defining performance and will now turn his attention back to the Olympic Games with the France 7s team.

‘Antoine Dupont is definitely the best rugby player I have seen’ – fans awestruck by Toulouse captain’s mindblowing performance

Six-star Toulouse: The French giants have now won two more Champions Cup trophies than any other team in the competition’s history! Ugo Mola’s charges were pushed all the way by Leinster but managed to come out on top, sealing a sixth-title in extra thanks to Matthis Lebel’s try.

Traditional tours return! This weekend, reports emerged that the All Blacks and Springboks have agreed on terms to revive traditional tours between rugby’s fiercest rivals. The two nations will face off in three Test matches in South Africa in 2026 with five midweek games scheduled and a neutral Test with Boks touring New Zealand four years later.

Sharks win Challenge Cup: Every cloud has a silver lining and for the Sharks it was a bit of silverware in the form of the Challenge Cup. The Durbanites put Gloucester away to win their first title ever and in the process secured Champions Cup rugby next season. Their high-powered squad finally showed their teeth and it could be a turning point for the Sharks. 

Vincent Koch: He did it all on Friday evening, starring for the Sharks as the Springbok tighthead prop, claiming his third EPCR title after two Champions Cup with Saracens. He was outstanding in the scrums, superb on defence and who can forget his sublime 50:22! A man for the big matches.

Premiership awards: The regular season of England’s top league came to an end and with that came the awards that saw Henry Slade of Exeter Chiefs be named Player of the Season following his stellar campaign for the side. Phil Dowson of Northampton was also recognised and was named the best director of rugby, with newly capped England wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso the Breakthrough Player of the Year. 

Tim Ryan scores another hat-trick: The ‘Junkyard Dog’ has emerged as one of the most exciting players in Australia and he simply cannot stop scoring. The Reds absolutely took apart the Western Force and Ryan was one of the destroyers in chief with another hat-trick, taking his tally to nine tries in just seven games. He has featured heavily on ‘Schmidt’s List’ and could be in line to grab a Wallabies cap this year.

Champions Toshiba Brave Lupus: On Sunday, Toshiba Brave Lupus were crowned the Japan Rugby League One champions, handing the Saitama Wild Knights their first defeat of the season, edging Robbie Deans’ side 24-20 in the final.

Champions Cup Team of the Season: Leinster and Toulouse stars dominate with Antoine Dupont and James Lowe leading the way

COLD AS ICE!

Michael Hooper hits Olympic Games speedbump: The Wallabies legend’s journey to Paris 2024 hit a snag this week as it was confirmed that he would miss World Rugby Sevens Series’ final tournament in Madrid. He is now in doubt for the Olympics after suffering from an osteitis pubis, which is inflammation of his groin.

A hat-trick of Champions Cup final defeats: For the third year in a row Leinster have fallen short at the final hurdle, losing the Champions Cup showpiece event. Leo Cullen’s side lost to La Rochelle in successive finals before succumbing to Toulouse this week. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Gloucester’s poor season comes to a close: The Cherry and Whites’ underwhelming 2023/24 campaign has ended with George Skivington’s charges falling to a 36-22 defeat at the hands of the Sharks in the Challenge Cup final. Both sides had a shot at redemption on Friday evening after a poor season in the URC and Premiership, but ultimately Gloucester were comfortably outplayed with two late tries, making the final score look far more flattering.

Double blow for England: Steve Borthwick received a double blow ahead of their tour to Japan and New Zealand, with Ollie Chessum the first to be ruled out before Ellis Genge copped an injury in the final round of the Premiership. Both players have been brilliant in the white of England this year and it is a sad loss for the side, especially considering the calibre of the All Blacks, who they face in July. 

Jasper Wiese to miss Ireland series: It was a horror end to his Leicester Tigers career when the Springbok was sent off for a dangerous cleanout. That would not be the last of the bad news which came with the length of the ban which is a whopping six weeks, owing to his poor record in the past. That means he misses the Test series against Ireland and some of the Rugby Championship. It is a hammer blow for the Springboks in a massive series.

Rob Penney: While the Crusaders may have gotten a strong win over the Blues they still found themselves in the headlines earlier in the week after head coach Penney was caught calling a journalist a c**t after being questioned about whether he has the dressing room’s backing or not. Ultimately, it was a lack of judgement from Penney who should have maintained his cool and discussed it in private.

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