Voted best player in the Top 14 for the second time, the Blues scrum half returned this Monday to the elimination at the World Cup, but also his dream of playing in the Games in Paris.
You have just won the title of best player in Top 14 for the second time. Is this something that matters to you?
Antoine Dupont: I don’t know if it counts, in any case it validates the work and the fact of being able to string together good seasons. We know that this is what is hardest at a high level. And above all to be able to do them collectively with the Stadium, we are lucky to have won a lot in recent seasons. This is reflected in this trophy.
Is being recognized by your peers more valuable?
The fact that it was the other players who elected me means a lot. It’s nice to feel recognized by the people we play against every weekend.
Are you still hungry with Stade Toulousain?
Paradoxically, the year in which we did not win a title (in 2022), was perhaps the one that made us the hungriest. This taste, of losing twice in the semi-finals, ending the season with nothing, when we see the potential of this team, it was hard to live with.
This title crowns last season. It’s already far…
Yes, a lot has happened since then… But despite this, we quickly returned to the daily life of the championship. We have moved on to a new season.
More generally, how are you?
It’s okay, it’s true that there are always regrets that come back when we talk about this World Cup. They will take time to leave, if they leave at all. But we took the time to regenerate, to clear our heads. Getting back into the daily life of the club, our friends, our personal life… This allowed us to take our minds off things, give ourselves new goals, move on to something else and get things out of the way by being able to play on the pitch again.
“I’m going to come back and play the final stages with Stade Toulousain”
Among your new goals, this year there is the Olympic Games…
For several months now we have been trying to settle down with “France 7”, with the club, with the Federation. To give me the means to try to participate in these Olympic Games. Today, I am part of a larger group. I’m going to spend time with them, try to acclimatize myself to this sport as best I can, hoping to perform well and be able to apply for these Olympics.
Is it difficult to switch from one to the other?
I’ll get back to you in a few months… (Laughs) I don’t know. But when we see the efforts that it requires, it is certain that there will be a time of adaptation necessary.
Why do the Games make you dream?
There are so many reasons… For any sports fan, the Olympic Games remain legendary. It’s true that it’s a little less so for rugby fans, where we have less of this appetite since this sport has recently been Olympic. But despite this, hosting the Olympics in France will be an incredible celebration to be able to be part of. Especially to be able to claim an Olympic medal. It’s a super motivating challenge.
Are you going to go back and forth between XV and 7?
Yes, I will come back to play the final stages with Stade Toulousain. And I hope I can lift this Shield again. (…) There are availability slots planned, I can spend time with the 7 but keep my deadlines and my objectives with Stade Toulousain. At the beginning of January, there will be an informal meeting with the group of 7 so that I can make contact with the team.
“I tried to disconnect, I didn’t want to watch the end of the competition”
How have you changed in recent months?
We have all matured and gained experience with this World Cup. Even if it was not the outcome we expected. Afterwards, I don’t think I have changed fundamentally. In the last seasons, perhaps. My game has evolved, my personality too. The first times I came to Rugby Night, I didn’t have a beard or matches in my side… (Smile)
How did you experience the weeks following the elimination?
I felt the need to leave for a bit, I went on vacation quite far away. I tried to disconnect, I didn’t want to watch the end of the competition, to see another team lift the trophy. Sport is made of these moments, you have to come out of them grown. This is the only solution to move forward.