France captain Dupont bounces back to start against South Africa in RWC quarterfinal

France captain Dupont bounces back to start against South Africa in RWC quarterfinal
Antoine Dupont (right) of France will start against the Boks in their quarterfinal clash after recovering from injury. (Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images)

France revealed their hand by naming talismanic captain Antoine Dupont to start the Rugby World Cup 2023 quarterfinal against South Africa.

Antoine Dupont will start for France in Sunday’s quarter-final clash against South Africa after recovering from surgery on a broken cheekbone in a massive boost for the hosts ahead of what could turn out to be a tactical battle at the Stade de France.

The mercurial scrumhalf missed Les Bleus’ final Pool A game against Italy and while he was not needed in a 60-7 demolition of the Azzurri, the captain’s presence against the defending champions will offer a confidence boost and add danger to Fabien Galthie’s side.

The 26-year-old’s return, three weeks after a head-on-head collision with Namibia’s Johan Deysel sent him to hospital, pushes Maxime Lucu back onto the bench after he stood in brilliantly for Dupont alongside flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert.

Maxime Lucu

Maxime Lucu of France will be benched as Antoine Dupont (not pictured) makes his return. (Photo: Christian Liewig – Corbis/Getty Images)

“I feel great. I’m in possession of all my capabilities — technical and physical,” Dupont told a press conference on Friday.

“I thought the tournament was over for me. After the surgery, I started to have hope and then I had a good recovery and went through all the steps, had the chance to have several weeks to complete the process,” Dupont, who added he was highly likely to wear a protective helmet at the Stade de France, explained.

“I have no apprehension.”

Galthie said that Dupont’s comeback was not rushed and that a strict protocol was followed.

“Amidst all the pressure surrounding Antoine and his injury, we were very calm. We did not force anything and went through a process with the medical staff, Antoine and his surgeon,” he said.

South Africa sprung a few surprises with their line-up, with Manie Libbok and Cobus Reinach occupying the halfback positions and a 5-3 forward-back split on the bench — a big shift from the 7-1 split coach Jacques Nienaber chose for their Pool B clash against Ireland.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Boks go for three backs on bench to face France in World Cup quarterfinal

Galthie, instead, opted to put six forwards instead of five on the bench as he looks to cope with the Springboks’ power and skill up front.

“It is a very precise tactical approach (by South Africa),” Galthie said.

“They always have a well-thought plan depending on who they are facing. They have been looking into everything and I think they’ve been looking into us a lot. 

“Their 5-3 choice is tactical. It’s a chess game. This morning we were thinking about what we could propose ourselves. We’re entering a world of strategy and tactics, and we’re relishing the challenge.”

Fabien Galthie

Head Coach of France Fabien Galthie. (Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images)

Read more in Daily Maverick: Rugby World Cup News Hub 

France won the last meeting between the two teams, 30-26 last November, while South Africa prevailed 19-15 in their last World Cup encounter, in the 1995 semi-finals.

Les Bleus, who won all their pool games, starting with a 27-13 victory against New Zealand, are facing their second huge test of the tournament against a team they had not beaten since 2009 before last year.

“They’ve been worthy world champions, they have inspired us and we have been trying to understand them — their vision, the way they unite a nation,” said Galthie.

“For us, the goal is to play rugby, simply, and enjoy it, with ambition. We cannot wait for it.” Reuters/DM


15-Thomas Ramos, 14-Damian Penaud, 13-Gael Fickou, 12-Jonathan Danty, 11-Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10-Matthieu Jalibert, 9-Antoine Dupont (cap.), 8-Gregory Alldritt, 7-Charles Ollivon, 6-Anthony Jelonch, 5-Thibaud Flament, 4-Cameron Woki, 3-Uini Atonio, 2-Peato Mauvaka, 1-Cyril Baille.


16-Pierre Bourgarit, 17-Reda Wardi, 18-Dorian Aldegheri, 19-Romain Taofifenua, 20-Francois Cros, 21-Sekou Macalou, 22-Maxime Lucu, 23-Yoram Moefana


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

[%% img-description %%]

The Spy Bill: An autocratic roadmap to State Capture 2.0

Join Heidi Swart in conversation with Anton Harber and Marianne Merten as they discuss a concerning push to pass a controversial “Spy Bill” into law by May 2024. Tues 5 Dec at 12pm, live, online and free of charge.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options