France scrum-half Antoine Dupont has been unveiled as the 2020 Guinness Six Nations Player of the Championship.
Dupont becomes the first ever Frenchman to be awarded one of rugby’s greatest individual accolades, a prize that has been won by an illustrious list of the game’s top players, including Brian O’Driscoll, Stuart Hogg, Andrea Masi and Shane Williams.
Ahead of going to a public vote, a shortlist of six nominees, three French, two English and one Irish, were chosen by an expert panel of distinguished rugby writers, former players and broadcasters from across the six participating countries.
The nominees were:
· Grégory Alldritt – France
· Antoine Dupont – France
· Maro Itoje – England
· Romain Ntamack – France
· CJ Stander – Ireland
· Ben Youngs – England
The 23-year-old France scrum-half was a creative hub for his team, a menace with the ball in hand whose athleticism kept defences on the back foot, while also dovetailing effectively with half-back partner Romain Ntamack.
No scrum-half made more than Dupont’s 249 metres with ball in hand, while his 54 kicks for 1,543 metres (both Championship highs) proved there is another facet to his game outside his electric running in the open field. Dupont’s Championship-high 12 offloads showcased his ability to keep the ball alive.
Dupont’s French team, rejuvenated under the guidance of Fabien Galthié, had a scintillating Guinness Six Nations campaign, narrowly missing out on the title to England on points difference on a fascinating Super Saturday to end an extended Championship like no other.
France kick-started their 2020 Guinness Six Nations campaign with a 24-17 win over Rugby World Cup finalists England, before beating Wales 27-23 and Italy 35-22.
In France’s last fixture before the coronavirus lockdown, Scotland pulled off an unlikely 28-17 victory to open up the Championship, setting up a fitting Super Saturday finale, with Les Bleus, England and Ireland all in the mix to claim the Championship.
Ben Morel, Chief Executive of Six Nations Rugby said: “I would like to personally congratulate Antoine Dupont on an outstanding Championship.
“His talent clearly transcended borders with fans from all six Unions giving him their support in huge numbers.
“To win this award at such a young age is quite some accomplishment. Bravo Antoine!”
Mark Sandys, Global Head of Beer at Diageo, said, “On behalf of the GUINNESS team, well done to Antoine Dupont on a superb Guinness Six Nations campaign in 2020.
“Antoine was the overwhelming choice of fans, winning the vote by a substantial margin, after thrilling and entertaining fans all over Europe and beyond throughout the campaign.
“As ever, we’re proud to support the award and particularly delighted that the trophy will go to a French player for the first time in its history. Well done to Antoine and we look forward to seeing him and the rest of the fantastic French team light up the Championship again in 2021.”