Vickerman credits Antoine Dupont on impressive start in sevens

Antoine Dupont’s talent was never in doubt, but sevens legend Rob Vickerman admits he was taken by surprise at how quickly the France star has adapted to a new game.

Widely regarded as the world’s best 15s player, the French skipper has made the jump across to sevens this season in a bid to help his country to Olympic glory in Paris this summer.

Dupont made an immediate impact as Les Bleus finished third in Vancouver in his first tournament on the HSBC SVNS series, before winning a tournament for the first time in 19 years the following week in Los Angeles.

He returns for the HSBC SVNS Grand Final in Madrid, and former England skipper Vickerman explained just how impressed he has been by how quickly Dupont has got up to speed where other stars of 15s have struggled.

He said: “I always have a degree of caution with these boys coming over to sevens. I did it myself many years ago, albeit in a different game. You worry about them athletically; you think they will be great for moments but the endurance over the course of a tournament is at another level.

“That is what I found most impressive about Dupont. They eased him in initially but then he started playing ten minutes and then whole games. To consistently inject into the game positively is remarkable.

“One game, in particular, of the eight involvements he had, six of them were not only positive, but they also led directly to tries or stopping tries. His potency in the game is unknown and then he’s also in the perfect position because his passing, his dexterity is the default as a scrumhalf. His pace was surprising, and I don’t mean that as disrespect, but I didn’t expect him to run around Terry Kennedy, one of the Irish flyers, and he did. That is where people really stand out.

“I watched guys like Bryan Habana, Stuart Hogg, Quade Cooper, and Jarryd Hayne, humbled on a sevens pitch and with Dupont it got to the point that it was almost humorous how good he was. And he’s done it very humbly and modestly.”

The former World Rugby Player of the Year and three-time Six Nations Player of the Championship missed this year’s Six Nations to focus on his switch to sevens.

That allowed him to compete in Vancouver in his first taste of the circuit. He is not the only 15s star to make the switch this season, with long-time Australia captain Michael Hooper taking up sevens this season, while Ireland full-back Hugo Keenan has announced he will be returning to sevens ahead of the Olympics.

And as well as impressing with his performances on the pitch, Vickerman was also blown away by how much Dupont’s switch captured the imagination of the spectators.

He added: “I’ve never been at sevens event where the whole crowd stood up and applauded when he came onto the pitch. One of the world’s best players was recognised in a rugby environment. It’s interesting, if you bring the best players across, there is a comprehensive impact. I probably under-estimated that impact.”

It’s Grand Final weekend in the heart of Madrid, featuring thrilling rugby matches and immersive cultural experiences. From the excitement on the pitch to the buzz in the air, this is one event you won’t want to miss. Be part of history in the making at the iconic Civitas Metropolitano Stadium.

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