Antoine Dupont officially launches his Olympic campaign with the French rugby sevens team

This is the first real test for Antoine Dupont

Antoine Dupont officially launches his Olympic campaign with the French rugby sevens team

This is the first real test for Antoine Dupont. The scrum half and usual captain of the French rugby union team will make his competitive debut with the “Septembers” on Friday, February 23, in Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada). The first of two stages of the world tour that he will play with the Blues in North America, before Los Angeles (California, United States), on March 2 and 3. The Tricolores' first match is scheduled for 11:36 p.m. Paris time, against the United States, the 8th nation in the world in the discipline.

In a video published on social networks a week ago, Antoine Dupont admitted that he was still in the “learning phase” of this specialty, which he chose to learn in the hope of taking part in the Paris Olympic Games. this summer. The one who was voted best player in the world in 2021 has therefore chosen to skip the Six Nations Tournament, which his traditional teammates are currently playing (who will face Italy on Sunday for their 3rd match in the competition ).

“There are still quite a few changes [between rugby union and rugby sevens], he recalled on this occasion. It remains the same sport, but the playing principles are different, as are the physical and athletic profiles. » In fact, the dimensions of the field are similar, but the reduced number of participants automatically frees up space. You also have to deal with shorter matches: two seven-minute halves, compared to two forty-minute halves. In short, another rhythm.

“Carry the workload”

The coach of the Bleus du VII, Jérôme Daret, does not seem worried about the adaptation abilities of his new recruit. “I already find him very comfortable,” he commented after Dupont’s first training session with his group in early January. He is a player who comes to expose himself, he leaves his comfort zone and wants to fight. » The main issue according to him? “Getting him to take on the workload. » And to elaborate: “There are differences compared to rugby union concerning the physical dimension. Antoine has all the skills to be able to exist in this game in relation to speed, but he must gradually be brought to be able to support this load. »

After winning the Top 14 (2019, 2021, 2023) and the Champions Cup (2021), the great European cup, with his club Toulouse, after having won the Six Nations Tournament, grand slam to boot, in 2022 with the French team, the 27-year-old hopes to shine at the Olympics in this other jersey. “We all have legendary memories of the Games that we saw on TV,” he recalls in the video on social networks. It simply represents the Holy Grail of sport. » Seventh on the world circuit after three stages, the French will also face Samoa (9th in the world, Saturday at 4:40 a.m. Paris time) and Australia (3rd in the world, Saturday at 10:49 p.m.) in their group stage in Vancouver. , Paris time). The final phase will take place on Sunday starting at 2:38 a.m. Paris time. During the first three tournaments, the Blues twice reached the quarterfinals, eliminated by Ireland in Perth (Australia) and by Fiji in Cape Town (South Africa).