Following his side’s opening 6 Nations victory over England in Paris, French scrum-half Antoine Dupont was left counting his blessings after mistakenly kicking the ball dead before the end of the match, believing time was up.
It was the only blemish on what had been an otherwise near-perfect performance from the Toulouse nine, who set up two of his side’s three tries directly; the other resulting from a rather fortuitous deflection from a half charged-down up-and-under.
Defending heavily on their own line and protecting a 10-point margin, France won a five-metre scrum thanks to Dupont’s sensational tackle on opposite number Willi Heinz.
Big tackle by Antoine Dupont @Dupont9A on Willi Heinz #FRAvENG Next up #SCOvENG #6nations pic.twitter.com/JPg0Rb4pgu
— Alisdair Hogg (@ajshogg) February 2, 2020
But a rare mistake nearly cost them dearly.
“As you can imagine, I thought we’d reached the end of the final minute, and not the penultimate minute,” Dupont told French rugby paper Midi Olympique.
“There were three seconds left when I lowered my head towards the ruck and I believed it was finished. Okay, I quickly understood that I had made a mistake by a minute!
“I’ll put the contact lenses in for the next match,” the Stade Toulousain scrum-half then joked.
The mistake, while not totally costly in the result of the match, did not go completely unpunished by Eddie Jones’ England however. The visitors then got a five-metre scrum with which they subsequently won a penalty.
That allowed Owen Farrell to secure what could be a crucial losing bonus point. Given the circumstances though, Dupont was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief.
“We laughed about it afterwards, even though they took the losing bonus point from that error,” Dupont continued.
“We can joke about it as nothing serious happened after but if we’d have lost because of that, then it might not have been so funny at all. Personally, I look at it as a big mistake which could have cost us dearly. So it’s up to me to take better care next time.”
Despite this error of judgment, it had been a sensational performance from Dupont, who arguably was more worthy of the man-of-the-match award than the actual recipient Grégory Alldritt.
Dupont’s speed and explosiveness around the breakdown and in broken play caused England all sorts of problems and, despite being put under a lot of pressure when box-kicking, his all-round display was one of his best in the France jersey, even if the man himself remained modest.
“I don’t know, I’ll look at the match tomorrow but I don’t ask myself that question today. I’m happy for myself, the team and especially given the nature of the match. They said that we were young and inexperienced but we’ve spent the last four months from the World Cup together, with the same style of play and the same group of players,” said Dupont.