The scrum half produced a sensational display in his farewell match for Toulouse as he showed exactly what France are missing in the 2024 Six Nations.
Antoine Dupont put in a blockbuster final performance for Toulouse on Saturday the day after France were humbled by Ireland, helping his side defeat Bayonne 46-26 in the Top 14.
It was Dupont’s last outing before linking up with France’s Sevens team ahead of Paris 2024 – the reason why he is not currently representing the XVs side in this year’s Six Nations.
Read more: France Six Nations squad
The 27-year-old, who typically plays at scrum-half, was forced to stand in at fly-half for the game due to team-mate Romain Ntamack’s injury and Thomas Ramos being on international duty with Blair Kinghorn also away with Scotland, although he is currently injured too.
But this shift in positioning did not prevent Dupont from producing a talismanic showing for his club, including one try, three assists and covering 149 metres, as he showed France just what they are missing in the Six Nations.
His absence in Friday’s clash between les Bleus and Ireland in Marseille was telling, as the men in green ran out 38-17 winners against the lacklustre hosts. Dupont played the full 80 at the Stade Ernest-Wallon a day later, and ensured the XV-a-side code would not forget about him over the next few months.
For Toulouse’s first try, he displayed his remarkable passing ability by connecting with Pita Ahki before setting up eventual scorer Setareki Bituniyata. Dupont then crossed himself via a sensational solo effort which saw him dance from the ten-metre line through a hapless Bayonne defence after collecting Ahki’s offload.
In a match of many notable moments, Dupont’s magnum opus was arguably the following assist he provided for Tonga international Ahki. After charging down visiting full-back Cheikh Tiberghien’s clearance kick and recovering the ball, the three-time Six Nations Player of the Championship winner handed Ahki a magical behind-the-back no-look pass to provide his colleague with a simple run-in.
His star shone further in the second half, beginning with a straightforward offload for Pierre-Louis Barassi to score. With Toulouse entering the final few minutes chasing a bonus point – as clubs in the Top 14 require three tries more than their opponents – Dupont set off from his own half before sending the ball wide to maintain momentum.
Upon soon receiving the ball again, he turned to see Argentine Juan Cruz Mallia in space on the far side of the field. The scrum half subsequently produced an outrageously accurate cross-kick which the full-back took gleefully before crossing.
The former 2021 Men’s World Player of the Year will now turn his attention to the upcoming SVNS series in Vancouver, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. He is set to return to Toulouse for the end of the Top 14 season, before again joining the Sevens team in July for the Olympic Games, assuming he is selected in the final squad.