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'I struggle to say Antoine Dupont is the greatest of all time'

By Liam Heagney
Leinster's Jamison Gibson-Park (right) looks at his opposite number, Toulouse's Antoine Dupont, last Saturday (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The fall-out from last Saturday’s exceptional Investec Champions Cup final between extra time winners Toulouse and plucky runners-up Leinster has continued on The Rugby Pod, with co-hosts Jim Hamilton and Andy Goode at odds over the claim that Antoine Dupont is the greatest rugby player of all time.

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Both retired internationals were working at the showpiece in Tottenham. Hamilton was there in his role as a RugbyPass TV presenter and as one of the EPCR player of the year judging panel, while Goode was busy as a sponsor’s ambassador.

Ex-Scotland lock Hamilton hosted a live post-game show on RugbyPass TV with ex-Ireland forward Bernard Jackman and their suggestion that player of the tournament Dupont was the greatest player of all time ignited an online storm.

With the dust now settled following that live touchline show from London, Hamilton has revisited the debate with ex-England out-half Goode on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod.

Goode couldn’t agree with Hamilton’s claim that Dupont was the GOAT of rugby.

He instead suggested that Dan Carter was the No1 while also paying tribute to Jonah Lomu and how his exploits at the 1995 Rugby World Cup transformed the sport from amateur to professional. Here is how the Hamilton/Goode debate unfolded:

Hamilton: A lot of people are coming at me. Me and Bernard Jackman did that reactionary piece after and there are comments upon comments upon comments about what about Jonah Lomu? What about Dan Carter? What about Richie McCaw? All of these. There is all of that stuff going on. I don’t know what you think, Andy. We might have had this conversation before. We are very close to the game. As much as an idiot I can be sometimes, I actually have a decent eye for talent. Like, I do. Like we’ve picked (Immanuel) Feyi-Waboso very early when he was coming through. I mentioned Ben Earl when he was a kid coming through, I saw huge talent. Max Malins, Maro Itoje, Nick Isiekwe. Like, there is a long list of people where we have looked at and we have gone right, this kid is going to be f***ing unbelievable. I’m not just saying it for clicks, for likes, for interaction. I genuinely believe Antoine Dupont is the best rugby player and someone is like, get him in the front row and see.

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Goode: He could probably f***in’ scrummage.

Hamilton: I know. And people are like, yeah, you know, the contact area. I’m watching little things. I don’t know what his turnovers were at the weekend… It said four on the sheet. I counted six, seven, or eight because he was turning people over in the maul. Like, he is turning mauls over. Like, he is influencing mauls. His kicking game; kicking off left, kicking off right, the distance. The way that he cleans out. Even when Joe McCarthy comes to charge him down and he moves that ball quick, he just sees things quicker than anyone. And yes, Dan Carter is in the conversation. Of course, Richie McCaw. And everyone is talking about generational, right? Gareth Edwards. I’m sure he was great, I’m sure he was a lovely bloke and you go through that nostalgia of being a great. This is like the best of the best. You look at that game – you ain’t seen a game like that as physical as it is. Tell me what you think, Andy. Am I being a fanboy or not too much?

Goode: I love the way you started and you have changed from being a South African fanboy now to being a French scrum-half fanboy. You started saying you were part of the EPCR player of the year panel. You’re saying you didn’t want to jump in and fanboy Antoine Dupont, yet three hours later you are fan-boying the f*** out of him like I have never heard anyone else in my life. ‘He’s the greatest of all time, the GOAT of rugby.’ And I get it. There is going to be arguments. People are going to have their preferences around the players that play for their country, their clubs, what they have won. Individually, impacts and how he plays across the board, in our generation and I am probably going from, I don’t know, 2016 then to now, so last eight years.

Hamilton: No, go 2010 because that’s when there was a shift.

Goode: I’m probably going to go, Dan Carter.

Hamilton: Because of the World Cups?

Goode: Yeah, and I have got a bit of bias because he is a 10 and I watched him play, watched him really closely, saw how slick he was with everything he did – he could do everything as a 10. And I see it in Dupont, completely see everything. He can tackle, he can turnover, he can sit people down, he can bang, he can make breaks, he can kick off both feet, his tactical game is ridiculous. He has got absolutely everything. Is he the greatest of all time? He’s in the conversation. Different generations. Jonah Lomu was the greatest of all time in my opinion. He single-handedly turned the game professional and probably gave us the careers that we had by accelerating professionalism from the ’95 World Cup and all that stuff and who he was. But that’s a different generation of player and it depends on what generation you are talking about because the game has evolved massively over the last four, five, six years when Dan Carter hasn’t played, Richie McCaw hasn’t played so the game has changed immensely. So it’s hard to say and people will say he [Dupont] hasn’t won a World Cup, all this stuff. Dan Carter has won one himself. He was involved in another one, so he has got two World Cup winners medals. Richie McCaw was captain for the two. You could go, Beauden Barrett, he’s won one. How good is he as a player? But I get the clamour for it. I just struggle to say he [Dupont] is the greatest of all time when he is still playing and he has not won a World Cup which potentially could define people.

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Hamilton: All the other sports hype up players, I’m not doing it because of what other sports do but we are in a position to do it on The Pod. Like, we’re there, we’re lucky enough to be pitchside. You talk about up-and-coming players like Feyi-Waboso, for example. It’s a debate, isn’t it? Like, Antoine Dupont – if it’s not him he ain’t far away. What is he, 26, something ridiculous? He is going to be the greatest player. But I suppose it comes down to winning a World Cup, I don’t know. Maybe winning an Olympic medal isn’t enough.

Goode: Well, we’ll see because I’m sure he will go pretty well.

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Comments

36 Comments
T
Turlough 20 days ago

Dupont may not even be the GOAT in France and has a ways to go to surpass the great #Blanco

R
Red and White Dynamight 21 days ago

Hamilton is an idiot.

This cringeworthy desperation of journalists to enter the ‘GOAT’ debate. Have they lost the ability to think of something new and interesting to write about ?

Its a pointless argument. Even using the eg of McCaw and Carter. One is a back, the other a forward. 2 totally different skill sets. Impossible to compare. Does a player need to win gold to be considered a ‘GOAT’ or is his skill evaluated independently of trophies ? And why compare Dupont, still at the start/mid of his career with 2 players with 150 caps each (approx) ?

are Gareth Edwards and Pinetree Meads and Danie Gerber and David Campese not considered because they were amateurs ?

Maybe let Dupont have his career first. And then compare him with others in his position, only.

L
Lou Cifer 23 days ago

That said FRance were clearly the better team on the day, quite clearly.
My man Turlough still at it😂😂
Let it go champ!😬

C
Craig 24 days ago

Dupont’s a ‘good’ player, however been far better half’s than him for sure, Aaron Smith one of the best 9’s ever…Dupont got along way to go to have the GOAT mantle applied to his name…didn’t see him or his team ever hold up a world cup…

S
Steve 24 days ago

I watched Gareth Edwards in three of the four 1974 Lions’ tests (plus four provincial games) in South Africa and he is far and away the greatest rugby player I have ever seen over the last 50 years.

C
Craig 25 days ago

It’s only my opinion but maybe it’s better to say AD is ONE of the best players ever.
I was just thinking bashing SA urc sides every week means zero. Try bashing Boks and Nz every year to judge.

M
Mike 25 days ago

I think fans in the NH have short memories. I am South African by the way and there is no way you can say AD is the greatest of all time when once upon a time Dan Carter graced us with his talent. He made rugby look so simple yet so elegant. AD is an incredibly intelligent rugby player dont get me wrong but come on gentlemen, we watch the same sport.

T
Thomas 25 days ago

Recency bias is a thing, we all fall prey to it.
Dupont is an amazing player, but to be considered the best, you have to beat the best.
He was an absolute monster in the Champion’s Cup finals, but he wasn’t quite that monster at the RWC.
France have an amazing team, even without AD. It’s not like he’s a Sergio Parisse there, carrying an inferior team. France are strong enough to win the RWC, let alone at home. The fact, that they’ve failed to do that is an indictment to the claims that AD should be the best player in the world, let alone of all time.
The greatest players crank up their performance in the greatest games.
This debate is premature.

T
Troy 25 days ago

Dupont is one of the best players in the world today - no question. Gareth Edwards, Super Sid, Nick Farr Jones, Joost Van der Westhuizen to name a few that I would rate over Dupont as better halfbacks let alone GOATS. It's sheer folly to try and rate players while they are still playing.
I thought Ardie Savea was the best player in the world anyway.
Go the Hurricanes

D
Dim 25 days ago

AD is really a good player, but the whole concept of calling someone the best in the team sport and especially like rugby is total nonsense .You can look the best in your position, but you cannot be the best in the game. If you play tennis or snooker, be my guest, be the best. Than it comes to the team - sorry. Put AD into NC Falcons, put Verstappen in the slower car, make Messi to play defense or Lomu play #9….
Stop wasting time, AD is good in his position but he is nothing without the team around him.

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