France captain Antoine Dupont suffers cheekbone fracture in Rugby World Cup match
Posted : 22 September 2023
France's rugby captain, Antoine Dupont, sustained a fractured cheekbone during the team's recent 96-0 victory over Namibia, according to confirmation from the French Rugby Federation (FFR).
Dupont, who was awarded the World Player of the Year title in 2021, was forced to leave the field in the 46th minute due to a head-on-head tackle by Johan Deysel, who was subsequently sent off.
The FFR has announced that Dupont will remain with the squad and will undergo specialist assessment to determine the duration of his absence from play.
France's final pool match is scheduled against Italy on October 6th. The quarter-finals will take place on the weekend of October 14-15, with the semi-finals following the next weekend and the final on Saturday, October 28.
The FFR stated, "Antoine Dupont has suffered a maxillo-zygomatic fracture. A specialist surgical opinion has been requested to determine the exact length of the player's unavailability. Antoine Dupont remains with the France squad."
Losing Dupont would be a significant setback to France's aspirations of winning the Rugby World Cup for the first time. In addition to his World Player of the Year accolade, he was named the Six Nations player of the tournament in both 2022 and 2023.
At 26 years old, Dupont has an unbeaten record of 14 home Tests as France's captain. Following an impressive victory against New Zealand in the tournament's opening match, Dupont was among the 12 players rested for France's second group-stage win against Uruguay. He was reinstated in the squad for the match against Namibia, where he helped secure a 54-0 lead before the collision with Deysel.
Initially, the Namibia captain received a yellow card for the incident, but it was subsequently upgraded to a red card following a review by the television match official.
Dupont will consult with a specialist to determine the severity of the fracture, but initial estimates suggest a recovery period of between four to six weeks.
This injury is not only a significant blow to France but also to the Rugby World Cup as a whole, as Dupont is widely regarded as the tournament's poster boy and one of the best players globally, with this World Cup representing an opportunity to solidify his legacy as one of the sport's all-time greats.
France is now left with two fit scrum-halves: Baptiste Couilloud from Lyon, who scored in the record-breaking victory against Namibia, and Maxime Lucu from Bordeaux Begles, who replaced Dupont during their opening win against New Zealand. Lucu, aged 30, is likely to step into Dupont's role in the coming weeks.
France's attack coach, Laurent Labit, emphasized that Dupont would remain with the squad and that he had not "finished the competition." Labit stated, "Antoine stays with us, everyone will be together," and added that the specialist's assessment would determine the course of action. He stressed the importance of respecting the specialist's decision, as Dupont's injury is not an ordinary matter.