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Charles Richardson

Everything that Antoine Dupont touches turns into gold. At just 24, the Scrum half, hoisted as the pin-up boy for French rugby and widely regarded as the standout number 9 of the game, is a pioneer of offensive heads-up rugby, with every week baffled him for the club Toulouse, who will play against Bordeaux-Begles in today’s Champions Cup semi-final.

And that’s just rugby. Dupont recently completed a Masters in Sports Management before embarking on a sentimental project with his brother in his youth community, the bucolic Castelnau-Magnoac: the purchase and renovation of his grandparents’ hotel, the aptly named Hotel Dupont, an hour’s drive west of Toulouse , the city he now calls home.

Dupont reaps the rewards of both his rural and urban work, but what would be most annoying for the underachievers among us is how everything is so natural to him. how instinct plays such a leading role.

“My pre-game routine is not having a routine,” says Dupont. “If you have too many rituals and there is one thing you can’t do, it can interfere with your preparation. So I just try not to have one.” Months were blinded by Dupont’s cheerfully impulsive style of play. Rugby was criticized from the barrel load, with the indolence and circumspection of the modern game, but Dupont’s rationale was touted as an antidote.

“Especially at international level, the emphasis was on kicking and defense and we’re seeing fewer teams trying to keep the ball and play, “he says.” Scotland had a great attacking game a few years ago but they are kicking a lot now. Rugby is on the way to becoming a more strategic game.

“It’s about finding a balance. But playing ball-in-hand is easily where we find the greatest pleasure. “

The enjoyment of the visionary scrum-half game has led Dupont’s shares to land on the roof. Rugby’s greatest showman became the first French player to be named the best of the six nations in 2020. In February of this year, Aaron Smith, the New Zealand scrum half, said on Twitter that his French rival was the best player in the world.

“I was very touched, almost embarrassed,” says Dupont. “So yeah, it was great, but I haven’t won anything with France and Toulouse hasn’t won anything this year.”

Dupont is very proud of its homeland, the rugby hotbed in southwest France. The headline headline is his grandparents ‘planned renaissance of his grandparents’ hotel, once famous for the Michelin-starred Ente en Cocotte restaurant, but beneath the surface, Dupont’s affinity for his family grabs the heart.

All three of his professional clubs, from the beginnings in Auch to his first Top 14 appearance at Castres to his beloved Toulouse, are all about an hour away from his youth home.

“My sporting decisions were made by dictated to my family, “says Dupont. “I never wanted to be too far from home – that’s why I originally chose Castres. I would have had difficulty going to the other side of France because I have a strong bond with my family and my region. I am happy when I’m at home, but I’m lucky enough to play rugby in elite teams nearby. ”

Another passion of Dupont is Toulouse, the French giants who since 2010 have been champions for their first time Cup final.

“I’ve supported Toulouse since I was a little boy,” says Dupont. “It was never a goal to play for this club at any cost, but I made the right decision “

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