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France training session with Dupont prior to the HSBC SVNS Vancouver at Trillium Park on 19 February, 2024 in Vancouver, Canada.

Rugby Stars Gear Up for HSBC SVNS: Dupont Debuts, Key Returns, and Milestone Moments Ahead of 2024 Olympics

The past World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year is gearing up for his first appearance in the HSBC SVNS, eyeing a spot in the France sevens squad for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Antoine Dupont, amid much anticipation, is set to showcase his rugby prowess in Vancouver this weekend. Dupont, the French team’s leader in the 2023 Rugby World Cup, skipped this year’s Men’s Six Nations to focus on qualifying for the Olympics. His quest begins at BC Place.

This marks Dupont’s inaugural SVNS appearance at age 27, coinciding with France’s 200th series tournament. He joins seasoned players like Stephen Parez-Edo Martin and Paulin Riva. Dupont recently left Toulouse, his Top 14 club, after a triumphant game against Bayonne, and has been training with Jérôme Daret’s squad.

France, in Pool B for the Vancouver leg of HSBC SVNS, will face Australia, USA, and Samoa, starting with a match against USA at 14:36 GMT-8. France’s Sevens team, currently seventh overall, had their season-best finish in Perth in January.

Key Australian Duo Return

Australia, third in the rankings, welcomes back Henry Paterson and Michael Icely, overcoming injuries, to replace Maurice Longbottom and Darby Lancaster, who is returning to Melbourne Rebels.

Coach John Manenti is excited for their return, emphasizing their impact and the team’s ongoing improvement since Perth.

Australia begins their Vancouver campaign against Samoa, a potential milestone 700th series win.

North American Milestones

The event is also notable for Canada’s Phil Berna and USA’s Maka Unufe, each making their 50th SVNS appearance.

Samoa’s team, led by Vaovasa Afa Su’a, includes rookies Des Sepulona and Dan Patelesio, but misses Melani Matavao and injured players Paul Scanlan and Levi Milford.

Canada, facing Argentina, aims for a strong showing to secure a spot in the next HSBC SVNS.

Canada Seeks Home Advantage

Canada, led by Berna, seeks to rebound from a 12th-place finish in Perth. Berna, matching Jamie Farndale’s series record, anticipates home support in Vancouver.

Argentina, with an unchanged squad, leads the standings and faces Fiji and Spain in Pool A. Fiji introduces newcomers Solomoni Rauqe and Viliame Naikausa, and welcomes back Napolioni Bolaca.

Intense Competition in Pool C

Pool C, featuring South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand, and Great Britain, promises tough competition. South Africa’s coach Sandile Ngcobo, bringing a refreshed squad, is ready to tackle the challenges in North America.

New Zealand welcomes back Andrew Knewstubb, and Joe Webber makes his 50th SVNS appearance. Ireland sees the return of Billy Dardis and Ed Kelly, while Great Britain introduces several new players.

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