France hope for Dupont return after captain undergoes surgery

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - France v Wales - Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France - March 18, 2023 France's Antoine Dupont in action with Wales' George North REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) -France captain Antoine Dupont has undergone surgery on a facial injury and will return to his Rugby World Cup squad to recover, the French federation (FFR) said on Saturday, though it gave no timeline for when the scrumhalf might return to the field.

The 26-year-old sustained the injury in Thursday’s 96-0 record win against Namibia in a head-to-head clash with opposing captain Johan Deysel, whose initial yellow card was upgraded to a red.

“Following his injury sustained during the France-Namibia match, Antoine Dupont underwent surgery at Toulouse’s CHU Purpan on Sept. 22 at around 11 p.m.,” the federation said in a statement.

“In a few days’ time, he will be able to return to the French team as part of a gradual sporting recovery under medical supervision.”

The FFR did not say when Dupont would be able to play again but the player and defence coach Shaun Edwards sounded optimistic on Saturday.

“Wounded but not sunk. Show must go on. Can’t wait to return to the squad,” Dupont wrote on X.


“If we make it to the latter stages of the World Cup then I’d be very surprised if he isn’t available for the quarter or semi-final,” Edwards wrote in a column for the Daily Mail.

The Englishman was happy Dupont was able to “have a yoghurt and a protein shake”.

“It was a very quiet breakfast hall at our team hotel on Friday morning. I’m one of the early risers and Antoine Dupont was one of the first players down,” he said.

“He’d spent the night in the hospital … and there was a bit of swelling around his face.

“If you can’t eat then you might lose a stone and that really affects your power. Antoine is all muscle so it’s a real positive that he can maintain his weight.”

France, who are already without flyhalf Romain Ntamack at the World Cup due to injury, next face Italy on Oct. 6. It is likely to be a must-win game for Les Bleus unless the Italians can beat New Zealand on Sept. 29.

France could face top ranked Ireland or defending champions South Africa in the quarter-finals on the weekend of Oct. 14-15.

Dupont is expected to miss at least the Italy game, which leaves coach Fabien Galthie to choose between Baptiste Couilloud and Maxime Lucu to replace the 2021 World Player of the Year.

France have won 27 of 31 tests with Dupont in their ranks and lost four of 11 in his absence.

Dupont, whose portrait has been posted everywhere in the country, is the face of the World Cup and while his comeback is much hoped, some are concerned by his wellbeing in a brutal sport.

“Preserving the athletes’ physical integrity should be an absolute priority. The possible return of Antoine Dupont to competition is disturbing and worrying to me. A man’s health is priceless, whatever is at stake in the competition,” former France flanker Olivier Magne wrote on X.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Peter Rutherford, Pritha Sarkar and Christian Radnedge)

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