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'That is what differentiates him': Brian O'Driscoll has singled out what makes Antoine Dupont a rugby superstar up there with football's Messi

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by John Berry/Getty Images)

Brian O’Driscoll believes rugby’s superstar players, the likes of France and Toulouse scrum-half Antoine Dupont, are doing an immense job in keeping sports fans royally entertained during this era of behind closed doors matches. Rugby switched into European competition last weekend following an unexpectedly uplifting Guinness Six Nations and the level of club action didn’t disappoint.


O’Driscoll himself was in Limerick watching the France star Dupont in person as he scored two tries in the round of 16 Heineken Champions Cup win by Toulouse over Munster. 

The BT Sport rugby pundit felt privileged to witness the game-deciding contribution served up by the French half-back, believing individual performances such as this will ensure eyeballs remain firmly fixed on the sport when it heads into quarter-finals weekend in a few days’ time.    

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Asked what he was enjoying most about rugby in these pandemic times, O’Driscoll told RugbyPass. “A reduction of box-kicks. Other than that you are seeing some outstanding individual performers at the moment, really excelling consistently.

“If you think about the weekend (just gone) you’re thinking about the likes of Antoine Dupont, you’re talking about (Romain) Ntamack and you have got the emergence of some of the young blood as well, unknown players in Europe, the likes of Gavin Coombes who had a really strong performance for Munster in a defeat. 

“I just feel as though some of the superstars are really stepping up to the plate and giving us reasons to watch the game, their performances alone. That’s what you need. You look at football the whole time – anyone would watch Barcelona because of Messi and we [rugby] need superstar players to be able to play at a different level than everybody else for us to just go and watch and have a player cam on them for the game because of what they are capable of doing.”

France No9 Dupont put Munster to the sword coming down the finishing straight in Limerick, the half-back taking advantage of some smart lines of running to play to be available to latch onto possession of score some crucial tries. “That’s not anything particularly new, it’s just that there are so many linebreaks coming from Toulouse and France that he picks up so many easy tries – but scrum-halves have been doing that for years. 


“It’s just he probably is a little bit better at reading it and also you have to have the fitness levels to get there. He is supremely fit. It’s one thing wanting to do it, it’s another thing doing it when you have gone through 15 or 20 phases and you have been the scrum-half for every single one of them.

“That is exhausting, throwing good quality passing, but then running a positive trailing line to pick up that try or pick up that break and offload it, you have got to have a real mental toughness and ability to stay in the fight and that is what differentiates him. 

“Everyone sees the skill and everyone sees what he is able to do early on in phases, the lovely flick passes and everything, but it is actually staying in the fight longer than everybody else is sometimes the winning and losing and the scoring of tries or missing opportunities.”    

  • BT Sport is the home of the Heineken Champions Cup with every single match live. Watch all the action from the quarter-finals – including Exeter Chiefs v Leinster – next Saturday and Sunday, April 10 and 11, on BT Sport 2

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