Six-nation tournament, European Cup or French championship: the scrum-half Antoine Dupont wants to “win titles” in 2021 and does not establish a hierarchy between the XV of France and his club in Toulouse.
At 24 years old and 27 selections, an executive in the France team, Antoine Dupont, named best player of the last Six Nations Tournament and admired for his crossings balloons in hand, sets the Blues as another goal for 2021 to “compete” with the nations of the south, essential stage to claim a world coronation at home in 2023 as he explains in an interview with AFP.
What do you wish for 2021?
Antoine Dupont: Already, that we have been able to move forward with this virus and that we can have people in the stadiums because we are starting to get tired of playing behind closed doors. And then, to win titles, of course. This is what motivates us every day.
What if there was a title to choose from, between the Six Nations Tournament with the Blues, the European Cup and the championship with Toulouse?
Too hard to choose. The European Cup, we want it so much. The (shield of) Brennus (won by the champion club of France, editor’s note), we won it in 2019 but once we won it, we only want it regain … The Tournament, it’s been ten years since there was a French victory in a competition, so there is a lot of envy on that side too.
Since your hatching in 2017, Toulouse, like the XV of France, are doing better, much better. Do you measure all these two paths covered in four years?
Of course. I arrived in two different contexts, but in Toulouse as in the French team, with a generation that was leaving and a younger generation that arrived and that needed to be guided by elders … The periods of transition are always complicated. The renewal in the French team, whether it is the staff or the players, has done a lot of good. We were able to start again on a healthy basis and without necessarily having the weight of the past. In Toulouse, we are all from the region, having arrived very young or even being trained at the club. This generation loves the club, it wants to be part of its heritage.
“International experience cannot be bought”
If the selection is better, it is also thanks to the installation of a new staff. You immediately reaped the benefits …
Yes, of course, I had never known such a large staff. As many (coaches) as there are almost players! It is very thorough, like what other nations are doing now, which surround themselves with ever more specialists and skills. Of course, that’s not everything, but it brings a lot of keys to the players on the pitch. The staff’s desire was also to give continuity to the workforce in view of the coming years and deadlines, especially the World Cup, to arrive with experience and maturity. We know that experience, at the international level, cannot be bought: you have to live through matches, have selections to manage situations better and better.
A few days after the draw for the 2023 World Cup, are you already planning towards this event?
We must quickly put into perspective, by then there are three years left. If we look at the last world champions (South Africa in 2019), three years before the World Cup, no one would have bet a euro on them (black year in 2016, including a defeat in Italy, Editor’s note) . There is still a long way to go until then, but it’s also good for us because I’m not sure that we are necessarily ready to play such a competition right now. We will have to play matches, win matches, win titles and quickly return to the top nations of the world. We did not play all the teams.
Now that you have beaten all the European nations, is beating the southern nations the other goal for 2021?
Of course. New Zealand is coming in November, we have a tour planned in Australia in July, it’s important to be able to play them and be able to compete with them, which we haven’t been able to do since. years. The last tours in New Zealand (2018), South Africa (2017) or even the one in Australia which goes back a bit (2014), there had not been a single game won out of the three. There is always an added difficulty when playing these southern nations, so we can’t wait to meet them.