Watch: Dupont shines as France struggles

Henry

Quickly forget about Nero’s fiddling session while Rome burns; here on the rugby field, Antoine Dupont foils his local rivals while France struggles.

The 27-year-old star, who is missing out on the Roosters’ Six Nations campaign in an attempt to taste Olympic gold with France’s sevens team, played a cracking hit for Toulouse in their Top 14 win against Bayonne this past weekend.

World Rugby’s player of the year in 2021 was simply doing Antoine Dupont things at the Ernest-Wallon Stadium: He fooled and fooled his opponents with his top ball distribution, while he excelled with his usual sharpshooting kicks.

All of course just a few hours after France suffered a record defeat of 38 – 17 against Ireland in Marseille.

Indeed, one swallow does not make a summer, but in talisman Dupont’s absence there must surely be a few rugby vultures circling above Fabien Galthié’s head.

The French rugby coach already had to stand up after his team – with Dupont included – was eliminated by the Springboks in the quarter-finals of the World Cup tournament; the Ireland defeat should only give his critics additional ammunition.

Mourad Boudjellal, the former owner of Toulon, believes that Galthié is tactically excellent, but he struggles to manage his players effectively.

“The coaches who approached someone like Bernard Laporte to serve as a counterweight to his shortcomings as a coach are now gone. I fear that in the end we will end up with the Galthié we saw as Toulon coach: Someone who refuses to own up to his mistakes,” said Boudjellal.

Despite the defeat – it is the biggest since he took over France’s coaching reins in 2019 – Galthié believes that the Roosters have not lost their nerve.

“Losing the opening game of the Six Nations is never a positive thing and we will have to live with it. Yes, it is difficult, but the tournament does not stand still. There are four more games waiting for us and Scotland is next,” he said.