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Super Rugby champion weighs in on the Antoine Dupont 'GOAT' debate

By Ned Lester
Antoine Dupont and Aaron Smith squaring off at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Former Crusaders halfback and six-time Super Rugby champion Bryn Hall has had his say on Antoine Dupont’s claim for the greatest of all-time tag.

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Having played with the likes of Richie Mo’unga, Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock in the historic Crusaders dynasty under Scott Robertson, as well as Toulouse assistant coach Jerome Kaino at the Blues, Hall has seen up close the careers of some of rugby’s global icons.

When assessing the incredible performances of his halfback counterparts in the Champions Cup final over the weekend, Hall had high praise for both No. 9s in the contest.

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However, as high as the 32-year-old’s praise for Leinster’s Jamison Gibson-Park was, it was Toulouse star Atoine Dupont who had the Shizuoka Blue Revs nine the most amazed.

“There’s just so many highlights that you could point out for Dupont; I think it was (Dan) Sheehan who made that big linebreak, obviously (Dupont) had the ball stripped from him but he comes all the way back, Sheehan almost scores the try and Dupont gets the steal just five metres from the line,” Hall said on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“There’s so many things that Dupont can do very, very well. Defensively, on attack, kicking; he’s your full threat.

“I could arguably say when its all said and done, if he gets a World Cup win in the next cycle, hopefully not for the Kiwis, but for the French, you’d have to put him down as possibly being the best player that’s ever played.

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“He has to be in that argument with the way he is able to play at the international level and obviously with Toulouse, and we haven’t even touched on sevens. He’s probably going to go and win a gold medal at the Olympics.

“That’s another great thing about Dupont, is that he hasn’t even been in there full time this year with Toulouse, he’s been playing sevens. He’s had the opportunity to go play a few SVNS circuit games.

“So, they’re two phenomenal players. Dupont got the win and that’s obviously one up on Jamison, but Jamison is there or there about, him and Dupont are two of the best players in the world.”

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The Frenchman’s performance in the final has inspired plenty of debate in the days since, especially following RugbyPass TV’s postgame reaction show where hosts Jim Hamilton and Bernard Jackman put the GOAT question forward.

The two former internationals shared Hall’s admiration for the halfback, even going as far as to say Dupont deserves the title already at just 27 years of age.

However, days later Hamilton posed the same question to his Rugby Pod co-host, former England international Andy Goode, who had a different conclusion.

“I’m probably going to go, Dan Carter,” Goode said before admitting his bias for No. 10s and clarifying his answer is dependent on the era of the game in question.

“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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Comments

3 Comments
C
CO 24 days ago

There is really two different ways of critiquing this question and really two seperate categories.

The first and most obvious is which player would you entirely clone for a team, I'm talking if you had to pick one player and that player is in every position including the bench….

The second criteria would be the player with all the skills, undoubtedly Dupont belongs in that category as does Dan Carter.

The key difference is Dan Carter has two world cup winners medals and Dupont has none. So it's a hard one to claim that Dupont exceeds DC.

The first category he'd also not be that guy and neither would Dan Carter.

The first category is in reality the true decider of who is the greatest rugby player of all time.

My pick would be approximately six foot four, 119kg’s and allegedly did the 100 metres in 10.7 seconds. That being Jonah Lomu.

However thinking about who could realistically have a go at matching up to a team of Lomus also highlights the importance of size followed by speed.

So a clone team of Eben Etzebeth perhaps, physically bigger at six foot eight and 126kg he would be a handful for the Lomu team.

The Etzebeths would need to seriously slow the game down to have a chance

j
jacques 25 days ago

Dupont is simply the best. Been following the game for 40 years and have not seen a player as good as him.

r
rory 25 days ago

It all depends on era and there is no way anyone can be labelled as the GOAT. I saw Gareth Edwards at his best, so too many players of that era, Colin Meads in the 70’s, Hugo Porta in the 80’s, Danie Gerber in the 80’s/90’s just to mention some. Great French, Irish, Australian and even Scottish players of the past that would be considered. Typical of the times we live in every second prodigy is the next GOAT. Nobody can be that as different requirements of the different eras determined different outcomes.
Tennis good example. Can one compare a brilliant Laver to a Federer/Nadal/etc. Now Alcaraz is going to be the new GOAT and then he loses and the media looks for a new one.
Dupont and others be the best of the day but there is no GOAT. THEY ARE/WERE ALL JUST VERY GOOD. Bok supporter just saying

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