The France scrum-half Antoine Dupont has been voted the Rugby Union Writers’ Club’s Personality of the Year for 2021.
Dupont succeeds the Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter as holder of the Pat Marshall Memorial Award following an outstanding 12 months for Les Bleus and Toulouse, the club he helped to a Champions Cup and Top 14 double.
The current World Rugby player of the year has continued to redefine scrum-half play through the excellence of his running and kicking games, generalship and defence. In May, Dupont was also named European player of the year.
The 25-year-old has emerged as a leader for France, captaining them last autumn in a successful series that included a first home victory over New Zealand since 2009. His pedigree means France head into the forthcoming Six Nations as the favourites, though he is expected to miss their opening match against Italy having recently tested positive for Covid-19.
He follows in the footsteps of greats of the game to have been acclaimed by the RUWC such as Gareth Edwards, Jonah Lomu, Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson, Brian O’Driscoll, Maggie Alphonsi and Dan Carter. Dupont came out on top of a poll of the RUWC’s 250-plus members encompassing writers, photographers and broadcasters.
Other top contenders who polled highly included the Wales and British & Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones, the Pacific Islands rugby campaigner Dan Leo, rising the England and Harlequins star Marcus Smith as well as the Red Roses second row Zoe Aldcroft and the head coach Simon Middleton.