Sport

TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK

France skipper Dupont cleared to resume playing ahead of critical Springboks clash

France skipper Dupont cleared to resume playing ahead of critical Springboks clash
Antoine Dupont of France during the Rugby World Cup match between France and Namibia at Stade Velodrome on 21 September, 2023 in Marseille, France, where Dupont was injured during a collision with Namibia captain Johan Deysel (not pictured). (Photo: Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

Talismanic France captain Antoine Dupont is in line to face the Springboks in their Rugby World Cup 2023 quarterfinal clash in Paris on Sunday.

Antoine Dupont’s chances of playing in France’s quarter-final clash against defending champions South Africa at the World Cup were given a massive boost when he was cleared to resume rugby training on Monday.

The team captain underwent surgery on a broken cheekbone on 22 September and after quickly going back to light training, was waiting for the green light from his surgeon to start making contact with other players.

Following the 26-year-old’s visit to surgeon Frederic Lauwers in Toulouse, the French federation (FFR) said in a statement: “Antoine Dupont has obtained the authorisation to resume rugby training as early as today.”

The French staff had said that the surgeon’s clearance was key to Dupont’s possible participation in Sunday’s clash against the Springboks, adding that the player would have the final say on whether he would want to be on the field.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Rugby World Cup News Hub

Antoine Dupont injured

Injured, Antoine Dupont  about to leave the pitch during his squad’s clash with Namibia. (Photo: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Should he feel ready, head coach Fabien Galthie and his staff will also assess if he is to start.

Maxime Lucu deputised in France’s final Pool A game against Italy and the scrumhalf did a fine job with club partner and flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert as Les Bleus demolished Italy 60-7 last Friday in Lyon.

“If he gets the green light to play with contact again we will resume gradually and then we will need to see how the players react, if he’s 100% fit and if he has any apprehension,” France’s health manager Bruno Boussagol said last week.

“Finally, the coaches will decide. It is not because he is on the (training) pitch that he will play the game.”

Antoine Dupont

Antoine Dupont feared his World Cup was over when the injury happened. (Photo: Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

France won all their group games, including a 27-13 victory against three-time champions New Zealand in the tournament’s opening match.

Dupont was rested for the following game against Uruguay but started to face Namibia, a Test France won 96-0.

Read more in Daily Maverick: France live up to expectations after condemning the All Blacks to another unwanted ‘first’ at RWC 2023

In the 45th minute, he left the pitch after a head-on-head collision with Namibia captain Johan Deysel and underwent surgery the same night in Toulouse.

France have suffered several injuries in the build-up to the tournament and during the competition, with lock Paul Willemse and flyhalf Romain Ntamack both ruled out before the start while hooker Julien Marchand is still recovering from a thigh injury he picked up during the All Blacks game. Reuters/DM

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