After years of chopping and changing, France finally seem to have settled on a half-back pairing to take them into the years ahead.
And, as luck would have it, Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack look set to be superstars of the world game.
The electric, dynamic, scintillating rugby played by Fabien Galthié’s men lit up the 2020 Guinness Six Nations and although they fell agonisingly short of the title on points difference, they came closer than at any point since they last lifted the trophy back in 2010.
Cast your vote here!
It all starts with scrum-half Dupont – a creative hub for his team, a menace with ball in hand whose athleticism kept defences on the back foot, while also dovetailing perfectly with Ntamack outside him.
No No.9 made more than Dupont’s 249 metres with ball in hand during the 2020 Guinness Six Nations as time and again he started Les Bleus’ deep, flowing breaks with his quick feet.
Yet his 54 kicks for 1,543 metres (both Championship highs) prove there is another facet to his game outside his electric running in the open field, as a pragmatic decision-maker happy to loft up a box kick when it’s the correct call.
The stats, powered by AWS, back it up but it’s the eye test that the 23-year-old passes with flying colours – simply put, he is fun to watch, you can barely blink in case you miss something extraordinary.
He has a skillset unmatched by perhaps any other scrum-half in world rugby. He’s a powerful, marauding, shimmying, dummying, metre-making whirlwind whose running ability with ball in hand would be equally at home in the back three.
The days of a scrum-half standing stock still behind the breakdown and just flinging out passes to the backs, or aimlessly box-kicking clear, appear to be quickly waning.
Dupont produced a remarkable 12 offloads in this year’s Championship – three more than any other player, regardless of position – which speaks to his ability to keep the ball alive and the France attack moving.
The support lines he runs are world class and he was rewarded with a try against Ireland on Super Saturday as he kept up with flying winger Gael Fickou’s searing break down the left to cross the whitewash.
He can change the game in a second, while his impeccable timing when passing to France’s runners from deep make him an all-round threat and rightly earn him a nomination for 2020 Player of the Championship.