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Antoine Dupont: Toulouse captain inspires team to Champions Cup final glory

Leinster comprehensively defeated Toulouse in the semi-finals of the Champions Cup in 2022 and 2023, with well-executed gameplans to shut down Dupont.

For large portions of the final in London, his attacking threat was again nullified but this time the 27-year-old showed his magic at the breakdown.

“We haven’t seen Dupont’s attacking game today but he has made four or five match-defining turnovers,” former England wing Chris Ashton told BBC Radio 5 Live. “He’s been a ball-stealing machine.”

The game was billed as potential match-up between Toulouse’s blistering attack – which ran in 46 tries en route to the final – against Leinster coach Jacques Nienaber’s blitz defence.

Despite there being no tries in 80 minutes, it displayed the French side’s determination to deliver the sixth star through any means possible.

Toulouse boss Ugo Mola praised his captain’s work on the ground and picked out two of his steals – both on the tryline – as vital moments.

One of those came when Leinster hooker Dan Sheehan broke clear and looked set to score the game’s opening try, only to be denied by a brilliant try-saving tackle from full-back Blair Kinghorn.

With quick ball almost certainly giving the Irish province a score, Dupont was there to win a vital turnover.

It was no coincidence that the Toulouse star was the first player at the breakdown.

After playing for the France Sevens team at tournaments in February and March in a bid to make it to a home Olympics, Dupont is seeing some of the benefits of playing the shorter, faster game now he is back in 15s.

“Playing in sevens the rucks are really important,” said Dupont. “It is something I worked on, so it is an asset I gained from there.”

Obsession is often why superstars get to the top and after France were knocked out of a home World Cup at the quarter-final stage by South Africa last year, a huge legacy-defining moment disappeared in front of him.

Dupont may never again get the opportunity to win a home World Cup, but his quest for Olympic glory seems to be driving him on to even higher standards.

The scrum-half flies out to Madrid on Monday to play for France in the Svns Grand Final and will then return for Toulouse’s bid to clinch the Top 14 title before attempting to add Olympic gold to his incredible collection.

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Written by Joseph

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