France will be without their talismanic scrum-half this year, but why?
The highly anticipated 2024 Six Nations is almost upon us as teams battle it out to be crowned the best in Europe.
Ireland will be looking to defend the Grand Slam they won last year and bounce back from a disappointing World Cup but will face stiff opposition, most likely from 2022 champions France.
Related: How to watch the Six Nations
The tournament will feature some of the best players in world rugby, but it will be missing one standout figure of the 15-a-side game.
France scrum-half and captain Antoine Dupont, arguably the most influential player in the world currently, will be absent from this year’s spectacle. But why?
Dupont not playing as he goes in search of Olympic dream
Dupont, who also plays for French Top 14 side Toulouse, has decided to skip the Six Nations in order to prepare for the rugby sevens tournament at the Olympic Games in Paris later this year.
He has made no secret of his interest in featuring in one of the biggest events in sport when it comes to his home country, describing it as “highly motivating” back in December 2022.
“It’s incredible when you see the enthusiasm it can create,” he told RTL at the time. “There is a desire from my side to put things in place for me to participate.
“It will be a discussion between the different coaching staff.”
In November of last year, Dupont, Toulouse and the French Rugby Federation confirmed the news.
“We’ve been trying for several months, with the club, the federation and France Sevens, to give me the opportunity and the resources to try and take part in these Olympic Games. I now hope to perform well and apply [make selection],” Dupont said.
“We’re going to have to make some adjustments. I’m not going to be able to play every match, every weekend, until the end of the season. I’m going to have to make sacrifices to spend time with this team and get used to this special game and discipline.
“For any sports fan, the Olympics are still mythical. Hosting this event in France will be an incredible celebration, and to be in with a chance of winning an Olympic medal is a highly motivating challenge.
“I still have ambitions in 15s. I don’t want to retire from the sport just yet, don’t worry.
“I’ll be playing in the play-offs with Stade Toulousain, and I hope to be able to lift the Brennus Shield again. I can spend time with sevens but also keep my objectives with Stade Toulousain.”
How will France cope with Dupont not playing? Let us know on social media or at firstname.lastname@example.org