Berliner Tageblatt - France roll as Dupont makes sevens debut in Vancouver

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France roll as Dupont makes sevens debut in Vancouver
France roll as Dupont makes sevens debut in Vancouver / Photo: © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

France roll as Dupont makes sevens debut in Vancouver

Antoine Dupont's bid for Olympic gold in Paris began in earnest Friday as the former World Rugby Player of the Year made his World Rugby SVNS Series debut and helped France go unbeaten on day one in Vancouver.

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Dupont, France's regular 15-a-side captain who was the World Rugby player of the year in 2021 and won the Six Nations Grand Slam during his 52 Test appearances, opted out of this year's Six Nations to chase the "holy grail" of Olympic gold in the scaled-down sevens format.

He came on as a replacement in both games as France beat the United States 24-12 then dominated Samoa 40-7 to take the lead in Pool B with the maximum six points -- three clear of the United States and Samoa.

With one more pool match to come on Saturday the French are assured of a place in the quarter-finals.

France led the United States 19-7 when Dupont came on in the 11th minute and helped bring the victory home.

He came on in the 11th minute again against Samoa, and while he didn't score a try in his limited minutes he made his presence felt in the rucks.

The 27-year-old Dupont's arrival in the France squad is "not easy because he's a great player", commented team-mate Paulin Riva. "We want to help him maximize his great potential so that he's good for the team."

France's six-try performance against Samoa displayed the strengths of the side, featuring a breathtaking sprint by Jordan Sepho and a kickoff by Stephen Parez recovered in the air by Jefferson-Lee Joseph -- who went on to score the try.

Series leaders Argentina, who top the standings after back-to-back victories in Cape Town and Perth, edged hosts Canada 12-10 before dominating Spain 38-7.

Against Canada, Argentina took a quick 7-0 lead, but Canada responded with two second-half tries to take a two-point lead with 90 seconds left before Rodrigo Isgro crossed just before time to break the home crowd's hearts.

They were tied atop Pool A with Fiji, who beat Spain 31-14 and topped Canada 22-12 and will battle in a pool decider on Saturday.

Great Britain headed Pool C after a 17-14 victory over Ireland and a 17-12 upset of South Africa.

Great Britain overcame a 14-point deficit against Ireland, with Will Homer's try clinching a last-gasp victory.

Against the Blitzboks, Great Britain led by 11 points with two minutes remaining. An Impi Visser try and a late penalty against Kaleem Barreto gave South Africa a chance but Great Britain held on.

K.Thomson--BTB