The XV of France is “much more expected” today after its Grand Slam in the Six Nations Tournament, estimates in an interview with AFP its captain Antoine Dupont as the autumn tests against Australia approach. South Africa and Japan.
QUESTION: Do these fall tests launch the home stretch to the 2023 World Cup in France?
ANSWER: “Everyone necessarily has it in mind, but we are not talking about it at the moment. We are first preparing to win these matches (in November), to continue to grow together, to increase our experience collective, our experience, to gain in maturity because we remain a young team. We are preparing this tour in this spirit and the World Cup will follow very quickly.”
Q: France are on a ten-game winning streak. Has its status changed on the world stage?
A: “We are much more expected than two years ago. Our results speak for us, we will no longer have a surprise effect. It’s up to us to respond to this status. As a favourite, I don’t know, but of a high-performance team, let’s say. We are aware of it, we have to assume that and play at our level when we are on the pitch.”
Q: You also took on another dimension personally…
A: “I was lucky enough to be able to win titles with my club (Toulouse) and the France team. I play in high-performance teams, which play to win titles every year. Obviously, in the middle, there are always individualities that stand out and I’ve had the chance to win trophies too. It’s part of the game, but the priority is the collective result. So it’s better to focus on that.”
Q: Your notoriety now goes beyond the world of rugby. How do you live it when you are of a rather discreet nature like you?
A: “It’s something to be understood in everyday life. It came gradually, not overnight, I was able to adapt. I’m very demanding of myself so I know that if I’m less good, the supporters and all the rugby fans will be there to fall on me, but me too, so there is no problem with that.
Q: In what areas do you think you can still improve?
A: “All of us. We are always perfectible. Even if I have been in the France team for several years, I only have 40 selections. When we face teams with players who have 100, 120, 130, we realizes the path we have to go. To continue to win titles, to manage to have this consistency, this regularity in all the matches and to continue over the seasons. That’s what’s the hardest part.”
Q: Do you feel like you are being targeted by opposing defenses?
A: “With Toulouse or the France team, we have a lot of individuals capable of making a difference. So if they focus on me, it will open doors for others and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. strategy. The opposing teams know that too.”
Q: You were reappointed this week as captain. How do you approach this function?
A: “Since it’s not the first time, I have more experience in this role, more experience. The team also has more confidence, we have won a lot of matches since. So I am more comfortable in this role than a year ago.”
Q: How did Charles Ollivon, the first captain appointed by coach Fabien Galthié when he took office, welcome this announcement?
A: “Charles remains a leader of the team. There are several designated leaders and we regularly discuss things between us. If he or someone else has something to say, he says it without any problem, dialogue is easy (…) It can also be other players who are not necessarily in this defined group. If they have things to say, they will also be listened to. A lot of players have grown in thickness in the team and experience since the beginning of the mandate (de Galthié).”
Q: Do you know what you will be doing in one year to the day, October 28, 2023?
A: “Is it the date of the final (of the World Cup)? I hope I will have a smile, on the podium. It’s all the harm I wish myself (laughs).”
Interview by Sébastien DUVAL