France was dealt with a major blow in their chase for the Rugby World Cup, with captain Antoine Dupont suffering from a facial fracture sustained during their dominant 96-0 victory against Namibia.
Dupont, considered a premier rugby player across the world, now faces an uncertain time away from the sport. France may now have to face some of their biggest challenges in the World Cup without the presence of their captain.
The 26-year-old is likely to miss the last Pool A fixture against Italy on October 6, as well as a probable knockout match against the defending champions, South Africa, or the top-ranked Ireland.
France has had injury concerns since the warm-up matches of the World Cup, having lost starting fly-half Romain Ntamack to a knee injury last month.
A statement released by the French Rugby Federation confirmed the maxillo-zygomatic fracture suffered by Dupont while also confirming he would remain a part of the squad until a specialist surgical consultant confirms the overall extent of the injury and lay-off period for Dupont.
The injury was caused by a head-to-head collision in the 46th minute of the match against Namibia’s Johan Deysel, who was penalized for the tackle with a yellow card, which was upgraded to a red.
Laurent Labit speaks about Dupont and player injuries
Assistant coach Laurent Labit said on Friday: “We are worried. We were happy with the match, but it has been a rough night. But we’re not going to overthink it for now, and we are waiting for the surgeon’s opinion, which will determine the length of Antoine’s unavailability. We have 48 or 72 hours to wait.”
Labit said it was not yet clear if Dupont would need surgery. “We’re hoping that he can continue. We’re now waiting to see what he can or cannot do when he can go back to training. But it’s sure we ended this match with a bitter taste in our mouths.”
France has achieved great success under head coach Fabien Galithé post the 2019 World Cup, winning a Six Nations grand slam victory, which propelled them to being one of the favorites for the World Cup this year.
Labit acknowledged that injuries were part of a World Cup campaign and that the players were prepared for it. “This is something that we had discussed with them,” he said.
France now has Maxime Lucu and Baptiste Couilloud as the probable replacements for Dupont in scrum-half.
Couilloud impressed by scoring almost instantly when he replaced Dupont against Namibia. Labit further stated, “Depending on the surgeon’s opinion, Antoine will decide what he wants to do, and we will respect it.”
Dupont now has the final say with regard to his injury after his evaluation by the surgeon, with the France national team prepared to support their captain in whatever decision he makes.