Antoine Dupont is considered one of the best rugby union players in the world
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Antoine Dupont will take part in the Paris 2024 Olympics after making a temporary switch from rugby union to rugby sevens.
Dupont, who captained France at the Rugby World Cup that ended last month, will miss the 2024 Six Nations in order to prepare for the Games.
Dupont was not immediately available for comment but he is expected to announce his decision on Monday.
The scrum half suggested that the officiating during the World Cup had not been “up to the mark” in France’s narrow quarter-final defeat by South Africa, causing something of a stir.
Les Bleus captain suffered major disappointment on his highly publicised return from a fractured cheekbone and felt substandard officiating was partly to blame.
Asked about the performance of New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe, Dupont replied: “Well, what did you think of it? It’s hard to talk about things because there is a lot of disappointment, a lot of frustration. There were a few clear things where the whistle wasn’t blown.
“I don’t want to be a bad loser and moan about the refereeing but I’m not sure the level of refereeing was up the level of the game today.”
A disconsolate Dupont was pictured with his hands on his head at full-time and was later in tears as he was embraced by his parents.
Former Australia captain Michael Hooper will also be moving to play sevens in January with an eye on representing his country at next year’s Olympic Games.
The 32-year-old flanker, who was a shock omission from the Wallabies squad for this year’s World Cup in France, will potentially have six rounds of the Sevens World Series to earn a place in the squad for the Olympics.
“The transition is something I have thought a lot about and I’m extremely motivated by the challenge of playing sevens and trying to earn my way into this team,” Hooper, who won 125 caps for the Wallabies and four John Eales Medals as Australia’s test Player of the Year, said in a Rugby Australia statement.
Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi was part of the Australia squad that was knocked out of the quarter-finals of the last Olympic tournament in Tokyo but Hooper will be unusual in making the switch from the forwards in the 15-man game.
Hooper did play in the centres as a youngster before moving into the pack and was renowned for his endurance in the 15-man game. He knows, however, that he has a lot to learn and a big physical transition to make to prepare for the lung-busting seven-man version of the game.
“I’ve trained with these guys. They are hungry and can run forever,” he added in an interview on Channel Nine. “I’m one of the bigger guys in the team which is very unusual. It should be great.”
The Paris 2024 Olympics will begin on 26 July.
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