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The best scrumhalf in the world? Plaudits rain in for Antoine Dupont's masterclass performance in Six Nations opener

By Sam Smith
Antoine Dupont. (Photo by Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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We’ve known for some time now that Antoine Dupont is a class operator and the French scrumhalf’s performance against Italy in the opening match of the 2021 Six Nations has just reinforced how supremely talented and influential the 24-year-old is.

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Dupont was named Player of the Championship following last year’s competition, with the scrumhalf securing almost half of the overall votes cast. He was in superb form during France’s campaign, setting up four tries and making 12 offloads over their five matches.

His first-up showing for Les Bleus in the 2021 edition of the tournament has shown that the halfback is set to carry on his good form from last year.

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England World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson joined Scotland head coach and former International Gregor Townsend on All Access to reflect on some of their most iconic appearances in the Calcutta Cup.

Dupont was on the field for just 60 minutes of France’s eventual 50-10 victory, being subbed shortly following the winners’ sixth try of the game.

In those 60 minutes, Dupont was the key architect in France’s destruction of their European rivals.

 

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At the end of the three-quarter mark, when Dupont left the field, the maverick scrumhalf had set up four of Les Bleus’ tries and scored one of his own, effectively contributing to 35 of his side’s points.

The assists weren’t necessarily just a product of Dupont throwing a simple final pass either.

Les Bleus’ second try of the match was the result of a perfectly weighted grubber kick put through by Dupont near the Italian try-line.

Dupont also played a major role in France’s third score. A loose pass from Italy near halfway was hacked forward on the fly by Dupont, with the nuggety scrumhalf scampering forward to support teammate Gabin Villiere, the first player to get to the ball.

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In the tackle of an Italian defender, Villiere tossed the ball to Dupont who then had to reach up and catch the high pass with his right hand before offloading a blind pass over his left shoulder – where centre Arthur Vincent was waiting.

Unsurprisingly, social media was awash with praise for the 24-year-old, who is certainly pressuring All Black Aaron Smith for the mantle of best scrumhalf in the world.

From his passing to his kicking to his impeccable support lines, Dupont was near faultless in France’s first match of the year and while one swallow does not a season make, if the French scrumhalf can maintain similar form throughout the coming season, Les Bleus will be tough to stop.

Scotland’s upset victory over England coupled with France’s display against Italy will have installed Fabien Galthie’s men as clear favourites to take out their first Six Nations title in over a decade.

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The best scrumhalf in the world? Plaudits rain in for Antoine Dupont's masterclass performance in Six Nations opener

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