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Report- Dupont handed World Cup quarter-final lifeline

By Josh Raisey
Antoine Dupont of France must leave the field with a jaw injury during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between France and Namibia at Stade Velodrome on September 21, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

A lot has happened since France captain Antoine Dupont fractured his cheekbone against Namibia on Thursday night in Marseille.


The scrum-half was operated on the very next day to have a plate fitted in his face before returning to the French squad. Just 24 hours after his surgery, Les Bleus were finding out their probable opponents in the World Cup quarter-finals as Ireland defeated the reigning champions South Africa in an epic clash. All this time France have remained reluctant to give a timescale on Dupont’s return.

But Midi Olympique have reported that the 2021 World Rugby player of the year will see a specialist this week in the hope of fashioning a protective mask to be moulded around his face, which will allow him to play in the quarter-finals on Sunday October 15 (should France win Pool A).

Under World Rugby regulation 12.4 “a player must not wear any item of which any part is thicker than 5mm,” which rules out the possibility of the 26-year-old sporting a mask similar to compatriot Imanol Harinordoquy’s in 2010. The former Biarritz loose forward’s headwear was considerably more than 5mm when he wore it to protect a broken nose.


Lightweight plastic or fibreglass masks are not uncommon across the sporting world. At last year’s football World Cup, South Korea captain Son Heung-min wore a face mask just weeks after fracturing his eye socket for Tottenham Hotspur, which will provide some hope for Dupont although World Rugby’s regulations do state that anything worn must be a “padded material”.

France have one game remaining in their pool, against Italy in Lyon after a week’s break. Fabien Galthie’s side will likely have the firepower to deal with Italy without their captain, which will leave him in a race to be ready for the quarter-finals a week after that.

Namibia captain Johan Deysel has since apologised to Dupont after his red card tackle injured the Frenchman. He said: “I would like to extend my best wishes to Antoine Dupont. Clearly, I meant no harm. Everything happened very quickly and I couldn’t get my head out of the way quick enough, resulting in a head clash. I know the rules and immediately knew that I was at fault. I spoke with coach Fabien Galthié immediately after the match and sent my best wishes and apologies to Antoine both personally and via the France team doctor. He is a great player and person and I wish him a speedy recovery.”


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Bo 272 days ago

French rugby have egg on their face and they are trying their best to clean up the mess. Who thought it was a good idea to put him out for the second half or even play him at all. A weakened French side would still have got a bonus point win against Namibia.

Jen 272 days ago

Surely no doctor is going to back this idea so soon after surgery. It sounds like a terrible idea.

CO 273 days ago

It would be interesting, world rugby is on a card frenzy to protect the head. Something which I think is wise to a degree but has become over the top.
However it would be difficult to understand the logic if Dupont was approved by world rugby to return before his fractures were properly healed as it would be highly embarrassing for the injury to be further compounded in front of a global audience whilst they at the same time act with multi week bans over any head contact. The wearing of a 5mm mask would do very little to safeguard the injury from rugby's impact's, simple things like being tackled and falling onto the turf with his injury.

CT 273 days ago

Ridiculous even considering letting him play officials are on about protecting players this goes against everything they trying to do.

SmilingRef 273 days ago

France are clutching at straws to get their best player back, and understandably. I find it very hard to believe he will be back for the quarters. That was a nasty injury and only time can heal such an injury and no face mask will give him the same confidence he played with before the injury.

Nigellas 273 days ago

So he will become the man in the iron mask....

Henrik 273 days ago

I wouldn't want to be the french medic .... giving the (medical) ok is a huge responsability, as the protection mask possible under WR-regulations is rather a pretence than a safeguard, on the other hand not giving the (medical) ok, he probably would have to quit living in France for at least 5 years ......

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