Antoine Dupont: The world's best No.9?
REACTION: Antoine Dupont’s performance during France’s Six Nations match against Italy has just reinforced how supremely talented and influential the 24-year-old is.
Dupont was named Player of the Championship following last year’s competition, with the scrumhalf securing almost half of the overall votes cast. He was in superb form during France’s campaign, setting up four tries and making 12 offloads over their five matches.
His first-up showing for Les Bleus in the 2021 edition of the tournament has shown that the scrumhalf is set to carry on his good form from last year.
Dupont was on the field for just 60 minutes of France’s eventual 50-10 victory, being subbed shortly following the winners’ sixth try of the game.
In those 60 minutes, Dupont was the key architect in France’s destruction of their European rivals.
At the end of the three-quarter mark, when Dupont left the field, the maverick scrumhalf had set up four of Les Bleus’ tries and scored one of his own, effectively contributing to 35 of his side’s points.
The assists weren’t necessarily just a product of Dupont throwing a simple final pass either.
Les Bleus’ second try of the match was the result of a perfectly weighted grubber kick put through by Dupont near the Italian try-line.
Dupont also played a major role in France’s third score. A loose pass from Italy near halfway was hacked forward on the fly by Dupont, with the nuggety scrumhalf scampering forward to support teammate Gabin Villiere, the first player to get to the ball.
In the tackle of an Italian defender, Villiere tossed the ball to Dupont who then had to reach up and catch the high pass with his right hand before offloading a blind pass over his left shoulder – where centre Arthur Vincent was waiting.
Unsurprisingly, social media was awash with praise for the 24-year-old, with one Twitter user evens comparing the young talent to Springbok great Joost van der Westhuizen.
In Dupont we are watching the start of one of the greats.
He’s a different level.
— Paul Williams (@thepaulwilliams) February 6, 2021
Dupont is ridiculous at rugby #SixNations @SixNationsRugby @peacockTV
— Blaine Scully (@BlaineScully1) February 6, 2021
Dupont is just magic
— Rúaidhrí O’Connor (@RuaidhriOC) February 6, 2021
Time to start talking about Antoine Dupont in the same category as Joost, Gregan and du Preez
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) February 6, 2021
Antoine Dupont is the best player to watch in the world, and has been for the last year.
— Huw Stark (@starky88) February 6, 2021
From his passing to his kicking to his impeccable support lines, Dupont was near faultless in France’s first match of the year and while one swallow does not a season make, if the French scrumhalf can maintain similar form throughout the coming season, Les Bleus will be tough to stop.
Scotland’s upset victory over England coupled with France’s display against Italy will have installed Fabien Galthie’s men as clear favourites to take out their first Six Nations title in over a decade.
By Sam Smith Reports, Rugbypass