The French men's sevens rugby team won its first match of the Vancouver world circuit tournament against the United States (24-12) on Friday February 23, for the highly anticipated debut of Antoine Dupont, who entered the game. The Blues imitated the French women's team, also victorious twice (26 to 14 against Canada then 19 to 7 against Spain).

Before the last match of the group stage on Saturday (three groups of four, the first two in each group and the two best third-placed qualifiers), the two teams, at the top of their group, are guaranteed to compete in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

All eyes were on Vancouver's Antoine Dupont (27), rugby union star, emblematic captain of the French team and Stade Toulouse, who has set himself the goal of shining at the Paris Games this summer.

The quarter-finalist of the last rugby union world championship made a discreet debut but welcomed by the public by starting both matches on the bench, only to return both times in the 11th minute (a match is divided into two periods of 7 minutes ), each time while the meeting was closed.

In such a short time, Dupont, number 25 on the back, did not score a try, but was involved in some actions, passing and in the rucks, where he was sanctioned once by the arbitrator.

Frenchman Jordan Sepho goes on trial during the Canadian leg of the world tour against the United States at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, Canada, February 23, 2024 © Don MacKinnon / AFP

Dupont's arrival in the France group is "not easy because he is a great player", commented his teammate Paulin Riva.

“We want to help him maximize his great potential so that he can be good for the team.”

Magical against Samoa

If it had a message to convey, the French men's team showed that the machine was perfectly oiled and that Dupont was not wearing the savior costume but was going to have to fight to find his place.

Frenchman Antoine Dupont during the Canadian leg of the world tour against Samoa at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, Canada, February 23, 2024 © Don MacKinnon / AFP

After a messy start to the match against the United States (8th in the world circuit), the Blues (7th) ended up winning (24-12, 4 tries) before putting up a display against Samoa (9th), crushed 40 to 7, with six tries.

The French, magic wand in hand, multiplied classy actions: a hair-raising sprint from Jordan Sepho (4th);

a kick-off from Stephen Parez directly recovered in the air by Jefferson-Lee Joseph who sped away for the try (8th);

or a superb action concluded by Esteban Capilla after a chistera inspired by Varian Pasquet (19th).

Les Bleues, Olympic vice-champions in Tokyo in 2021 and even better placed in the world hierarchy (3rd), assumed their status as favorite in their group with two authoritarian successes.

They first cooled the local public by easily beating Canada (26-14) thanks to four tries, two of which were thanks to the powerful Séraphine Okemba.

They then dominated Spain (19-7) with three tries and are among the favorites to reach the semi-finals and the final played on Sunday.

The world sevens rugby circuit will then stop in Los Angeles next week, where Dupont will still be with the Blues.

With AFP

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