The term generational star is reserved for those so special in their chosen field that they transcend the set norms previously associated with their area of expertise.
In rugby there have been a handful of these operators over the years, exactly who makes that list rages as one of the hottest topics amongst rugby fans and pundits alike.
Few would dispute, however, that France and Toulouse superstar Antoine Dupont, if not already considered a generational talent, will almost certainly end his career as one of the very best players of all time.
Following the company line of ‘you don’t know what you have until it’s gone’, French Rugby was offered a stark reminder of just how much Dupont makes to their routinely dubbed ‘golden generation’.
Unavailable due to his decision to chase an Olympic gold medal at the upcoming summer games in Paris with the French 7s team, the scrumhalf was absent from Les Blues opening 2024 Guinness Six Nations clash with Ireland.
To put it lightly, things did not go well for Fabien Galthie’s side as they suffered a 38 – 17 loss to Andy Farrell’s side.
In defence of France, Ireland have lost just one match in their last 18, outside of a brutally close loss to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals.
Despite this fact, Les Bleus are no slouches themselves and were humiliated by the defeat.
Clearly still suffering from their own Rugby World Cup quarterfinal exit, Galthie’s side appeared to be playing at half-speed as the Irish tore them to shreds in every facet of the game.
This performance, coupled with the quarterfinal exit and a general feeling of discontent amongst the French rugby public, has Galthie under a mountain of pressure ahead of their round two trip to Edinburgh to face a red-hot Scotland team.
Whilst his national team were struggling in Marseille, Dupont was back home in Toulouse guiding his club side to a 46 – 26 win over Bayonne to jump up to joint first on the Top 14 table.
Playing at flyhalf instead of his customary scrumhalf position, Dupont was mesmeric as he proved to be at his unplayable best with several moments of magic.
Starting with a long-range break, followed by a sublime offload and completed with a crossfield kick that led to a try, Dupont once again highlighted just what France are missing as well as what Toulouse will miss for the remainder of the season.