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Antoine Dupont on the “joy” of winning the Champions Cup

Toulouse scrum-half Antoine Dupont has expressed his delight at lifting the Champions Cup, but was quick to highlight the mentality of his side to win in extra-time. 

Leinster and Toulouse couldn’t be separated after 80 minutes, but a late try from Matthis Lebel secured a historic sixth title for the French side.

Speaking to the media after the game, Dupont said: “It’s a great joy, the emotions are difficult to put into words. We work so hard to win trophies, and now it’s done. It wasn’t a simple game, but it’s a great joy.”

Toulouse have struggled against Leinster in recent seasons. In 2022, Toulouse fell to a 40-17 defeat, and last year slipped to a 41-22 loss to the same opposition.

“The last two times we played Leinster, it didn’t go our way. We have developed our game now though.”

The victory against Leinster was built off a solid defensive platform, in particular in extra-time. Jack Willis made a staggering 41 tackles, and Dupont himself notched four vital turnovers to stunt Leinster’s attack.

This extra-time effort eventually helped them lift the title for the first time since 2021, and Dupont was quick to praise his side’s mentality heading into those final 20 minutes.

“We told ourselves it would be difficult, but it was the same for Leinster. It was crunch time, and we focused on the exceptional mindset we’ve shown. Mentally, that’s when you win games.”

He added: “Now we have the necessary experience not to get too caught up in the frenzy; but we would have signed up for a simple win.”

Toulouse now hone in on the Top 14 title race, where they sit top heading into the final two rounds.

Antoine Dupont on winning individual awards

Yesterday was also a good day for Dupont on a personal level. He was named Man of the Match, and later European Player of the Year.

Whilst this would please anyone, Dupont was keen to highlight the collective achievement of his team.

“My titles (individual awards) are not the most important thing. This club has a special relationship with this competition. I’m happy because we won.”

Dupont previously won European Player of the Year back in 2021, and now becomes the first player to win the award on two occasions.

The Frenchman also beat off stern competition from Leinster’s Caelan Doris, Jamison Gibson-Park, James Lowe and Dan Sheehan.

Premiership trio Courtney Lawes, Fin Smith and Marcus Smith were also named on the shortlist.