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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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