An in-depth look at the World Player of the Year’s skill-set by Stuart Barnes
France Scrum-half Antoine Dupont Analysed
Antoine Dupont was named World Rugby Player of the Year for 2021 and leads his country in the 2022 Six Nations. Here former England fly-half Stuart Barnes breaks down the France scrum-half’s skill-set, from head to toe…
You can possess all the physical attributes but if you cannot see the potential space in front of you (or sideways), greatness will never beckon.
If you possess the pace and power of Dupont – and his capacity to see the slightest of growing gaps around the fringes or on the short side – you might just be the best player in the world.
Rugby isn’t always a front-foot affair. Nor is it for the faint of heart. In defence, it takes strength and technique but also that beating heart to keep going when it hurts.
Look back to the last French win in Cardiff and watch the number and intensity of tackles he makes. Dupont defends like a fourth back-rower. He’s the ninth forward with the vision of the pre-eminent back.
Call it low centre of gravity; Dupont’s enables him to excel in another two areas of the game. Approaching the breakdown, he’s able to adjust his body into the perfect compact position from which to shift the pass away from the melee whatever the quality of the presentation.
If he decides not to pass but dart, he is able to swerve away from and beneath tackles of the usual giants. This balance is the priceless asset that combines with his vision to put his teams in open space.
He generates amazing acceleration courtesy of those pumping legs. While his calf strength is important, it’s power from the thighs that enables him to combine a sprinter’s speed with a world-class rugby player’s ability to roll with the attempted tackle and come through it at a fair old lick. He’s the ideal size for a scrum-half and blessed with the body to make him nigh-on impossible to knock over.
Whether it is dancing his way through a congested space or changing direction at the last minute to pick those unique and unstoppable support lines of his, Dupont’s fast feet are the flashy part of this rugby sports car.
When his footwork leaves others trailing in the dirt or standing flat-footed, that’s when you are blown away by the metaphorical roar of this sturdy superstar.
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