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Antoine Dupont helps France end 19-year drought with SVNS win in LA

By Finn Morton
France's players celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2024 HSBC Rugby Sevens Los Angeles tournament final men's match against Great Britain at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California on March 3, 2024. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

For the first time in 19 years, France have won a Cup final on the SVNS Series with marquee addition Antoine Dupont playing a starring role during their road to history-making glory.

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Dupont, who is a former World Rugby Player of the Year in 15s, put on a clinic against Ireland in a thrilling semi-final on Sunday afternoon before taking a backseat in the decider.

Playmaker Stephen Parez-Edo Martin was named to start for Les Bleus as they looked to lock up their first piece of series silverware since the Paris leg of the 2004/5 season.

It was a tense start to the final as Great Britain slowly made their way up the field, but it very quickly became clear who the victors would be at the end of the night.

Antoine Zeghdar, Stephen Parez-Edo Martin and Theo Forner all crossed as this French team etched their names into the record books with a dominant 21-nil win.

“I don’t think I have really realised yet. When I get back home and spend time with my family I’ll get to realise what has happened,” France’s William Iraguha told RugbyPass.

“I’m so proud of the group. We worked so hard for this and we’ve been waiting for it for such a long time.

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“Last year we lost in the final, it was my first final personally, but I think we all had this feeling that it must be today.

“I don’t think I have much more words to explain how I feel.”

France were pipped by eventual runners-up New Zealand in last weekend’s SVNS Vancouver semi-final, but it still felt that history was within reach.

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Les Bleus knocked over Canada and eventual-finalists Great Britain in pool play, and got the better of the United States and Ireland on their way to the big dance.

“Obviously we didn’t kick off the season as well as we would’ve wished. We struggled a bit but kept on going up, going up,” Iraguha said.

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“Last week in Vancouver we lost by two points in the semi and just knew, as I said, it’s just so close yet so far.

“We said now if we make it to the semis this weekend there’s no way we can’t just go all the way.

“Everybody played their part and we won. It’s a wonderful feeling… I’m so, so happy, I finally won a tournament.”

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Turlough 1 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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