World Player of the Year Dupont guides Toulouse past Covid-hit Cardiff

Paris (AFP) – France scrum-half Antoine Dupont celebrated being named World Player of the Year with a try as Toulouse won 39-7 at Cardiff in the European Champions Cup on Saturday.


Less than 24 hours after he was presented with the award, Dupont also set up two tries as the holders started the defence of their record fifth European crown.

The home side fielded a third-string side because 32 players had to isolate after the team returned from South Africa earlier this month.

Cardiff's fellow Welsh region, the Scarlets, decided to forfeit their weekend fixture against the Bristol Bears, after also being caught by Britain's changing quarantine rules.

At the Arms Park, the hosts, including academy members and semi-professional players, trailed 6-0 after a quarter of an hour following two Romain Ntamack penalties.

The vocal home crowd were fired up and had reason to cheer on the 20-minute mark as Wales three-quarter Josh Adams went over under the sticks and Cardiff led 7-6.

The tie turned on its head before the break with two clinical Dupont interventions as the half-back's breaks set-up Anthony Jelonch and Pita Ahki.

Toulouse were held at 20-7 by the home team's committed defence before Dupont's best contribution.

He broke off the back of a lineout from 30m out and beat four would-be tacklers to dive over.

The 25-year-old capped his display with a sublime low cross-kick to gift winger Arthur Bonneval a try that secured the bonus point. Dupont was then replaced with 13 minutes to play.

Cardiff finished with 14-men after 20-year-old full-back Jacob Beetham was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle on his senior debut before former Samoa lock Joe Tekori crossed for Toulouse's fifth try with four minutes left.

Later, Top 14 leaders Bordeaux-Begles host the side at the summit of the English Premiership, Leicester Tigers, in the pick of the matches.

Former winners Exeter Chiefs host Challenge Cup holders Montpellier to finish the day.

On Sunday, last season's losing finalists La Rochelle welcome Glasgow Warriors and Munster, who have also been hit by Covid-19 isolation, head to fellow two-time champions Wasps.

On Friday, Scotland's Finn Russell starred as Racing 29, runners up on three occasions, hammered Northampton Saints 45-14.