"Not the Same Team Without Dupont" - Dylan Hartley Unimpressed By France In 2024 Six Nations - Ruck

“Not the Same Team Without Dupont” – Dylan Hartley Unimpressed By France In 2024 Six Nations

Former England captain Dylan Hartley has expressed his disappointment with France, and believes that Les Bleus are ‘not the same team without Dupont’. France were a kick away from a shocking defeat to Italy last weekend, as Azzurri fly half Paolo Garbisi hit the post with the match hanging in the balance.

Despite the dubious circumstances in which the penalty was taken, and the plentiful backlash which followed regarding the legality of the French charge down, Hartley knows that one thing is for certain. The former England captain believes that France are lost without their talismanic scrum-half, as Antoine Dupont continues his rugby sevens preparations ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Speaking with Gambling Zone, Hartley recognised how Fabien Galthie’s men are a far cry from the side which won the 2022 Six Nations Grand Slam.

“France have stuttered at the Six Nations so far. Everyone has been pretty vocal about how they’re not the same team without Dupont. The players will be wanting to prove people wrong and will be motivated by the fact that they’ve gone from World Cup favourites to being nothing without one player.”

Dylan Hartley (captain) of England arrives at Twickenham Stadium before the RBS 6 Nations match, between England and France at Twickenham Stadium, London , UK, on the 4th February 2017.

Despite not featuring in the 13-13 draw, Hartley cast his attention to a player who is soon expected to represent the Italians. Having recently departed Harlequins in favour of a move to Benetton Treviso, Louis Lynagh looks to have nailed his red, white and green tricolour to the mast, in the hopes of international representation for Italy. Lynagh was born in Treviso, and is half-Italian on his mother’s side.

His father however, is legendary Wallaby Michael Lynagh, with the recent move curtailing any chances of an Australian call-up. Lynagh was also eligible to play for England before he was called away with his recent move to the United Rugby Championship. Hartley discussed how he is excited to see Lynagh appear in the famous blue, and called the move a ‘bold decision’.

Louis Lynagh (Harlequins, uncapped) during England Rugby training session at The Lensbury Hotel, Teddington, London on 28 Sept 2021. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“Those who’ve seen him play week in, week out for Quins will be better qualified to say because I don’t watch Premiership rugby every single week, but I did see him score an absolute wonder try not so long ago. He does some great things.

“Here’s a kid with an opportunity to go and play international rugby. Does he wait (for an England or Australia call) or go for it? He’s absolutely going for it. Wing is a pretty difficult position. There’s not many guys that sit in a wing position internationally for years. It’s a highly competitive position and, these guys are so finely tuned, so the slightest sort of injury or form can have a massive impact on your international career.

“I think it’s a pretty bold decision by Louis and a proud decision as well. He’s proud to be half Italian. Good on him. Go for it. He is exactly what Italian rugby needs. If you look at the rest of the rugby world, your Bundee Aki’s or Duhan van der Merwe’s, it’s pretty common in international rugby.

“I think it’s good for the international rugby community. He takes his Premiership experience to the Italian side, which is only going to benefit the game. He’ll add to that environment and I’m sure he’ll learn a lot there too. I think it’s a great moment for him.”

“I am also looking forward to seeing Louis Lynagh give it a crack.”

Dylan Hartley of England (Capt) arrives before the six Nations Championship match, between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium, London , UK, on the 17th March 2017. (Photo:Dean Lancaster/PPAUK)

Pivoting his scope back to the competitors in the 2024 Six Nations, Hartley was full of praise for Wales back-row Tommy Reffell. The Leicester Tigers man has been without a doubt one of Warren Gatland’s top performers, and Hartley thinks that the 24-year-old is on his way to becoming a ‘Welsh great’.

“I would say Tommy Reffell. Again, I think he’s going to go on to become a Welsh great. Wales seem to produce these fantastic rugby players and he looks like he will be someone they can build a team around for a long time.

Tommy Reffell of Wales during the Six Nations Match between England and Wales at Twickenham, London on 10 February 2024 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“I’m a big fan. He quietly goes about his business. For a Welsh team that is in transition, I think they can really build around this guy. They need to wrap him in cotton wool. It’s a high turnover position. Flankers have always got their head down and are expected to carry the ball a lot and have a high tackle count. If you look at all back rows faces, you can see they’ve had a tough paper round.”