Antoine Dupont propels France into semi-finals on rugby sevens debut

He had arrived in Vancouver on tiptoe

Antoine Dupont propels France into semi-finals on rugby sevens debut

He had arrived in Vancouver on tiptoe. “I don’t feel too legitimate to have an ovation,” insisted Antoine Dupont, Saturday February 24, after his first official steps in the French sevens rugby team. The reason ? “There are guys [in the tournament] who have taken dozens of tries and played dozens of tournaments. It's my first. I will remain humble and learn in order to be as comfortable as possible,” insisted the exiled – voluntary – captain of the French XV, launched into the “sevenist” adventure with a view to participating in the Paris Olympic Games. . Attraction of the weekend in British Columbia, where the Canadian stage of the world circuit takes place, the best player in the world 2021 (at XV) found the best way to be adopted: Saturday, with a test at the very end meeting, Antoine Dupont propelled the Blues into the semi-finals, and allowed France to get out of the impasse into which Ireland had found itself in the quarter-finals (12-5).

The second try – in four matches, in “seven”, the matches follow one another – of “Toto”, who slowly leaves his mark on his new team. After having contented himself with the ends of matches, Friday, for his entry into the running – just to learn his new discipline gently – the Toulouse scrum half was started against Australia, Saturday in the last match of the group stage, before coming into play five minutes from time against Ireland.

Before delivering the Blues by exploiting a space in the green defense at the end of a scrum, Antoine Dupont stood out in defense alongside his teammates, reduced to five following two yellow cards. Particularly aggressive, the French repelled the Irish attacks, before winning at the finish – eliminating the team which had deprived them of the last four during the first tournament of the season, in Perth (Australia). “We've been waiting for the half since the start of the season, plus Antoine scores the winning try. We worked hard, we deserve to be able to win this match,” said Frenchman Aaron Grandidier after the match. “He’s an exceptional player. He analyzes things, he makes decisions quickly, added the French coach, Jérôme Daret, quoted by RMC Sport, about his latest recruit. When he came in, you had to be strong. The other incoming players have been good. »

Les Bleues at the semi-final meeting

Next step for France: New Zealand, in the semi-finals of the tournament, Sunday February 25 (1:07 p.m. local time; 10:07 p.m. Paris time), before playing, whatever happens, a medal match, they who missed the final four during the first three tournaments on the world circuit – finished in 8th, 7th and 5th places.

Saturday was a perfect day for France, which saw the women's VII, also still undefeated in Canada, easily escape its quarter-final against Brazil (24-5). Also undefeated in the tournament, the French, Olympic vice-champions in Tokyo, were more anticipated than the Blues. They will face the Australian world premieres in the semi-finals (12:23 p.m. local time; 9:23 p.m. Paris time), against whom they lost in the final of the tournament in Cape Town (South Africa) earlier this year.

If it is too early to guarantee that Antoine Dupont will succeed in his “Olympic Games” bet, the Pyrenees has succeeded in his first steps in rugby sevens. And noticed the difference with the game he has been playing for years in clubs or with the XV of France. What’s changing? " All. With seven on the pitch for seven minutes, we quickly understand that it's going to be hard and we realize the efforts we have to make. Nobody stops playing, you have to fight until the last action, don't give up," said the player, quoted by Rugbyrama, after his third match in two days. Still learning, the player – and his partners – would see his VII trial period validated by a successful end to the tournament.