France to treat Antoine Dupont's Rugby World Cup return ‘intelligently’ ahead Springboks clash

France's scrumhalf and captain Antoine Dupont receives medical attention during their Rugby World Cup Pool A match against Namibia

France's scrumhalf and captain Antoine Dupont receives medical attention during their Rugby World Cup Pool A match against Namibia. Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP

Published Oct 9, 2023

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The France rugby team's medical director Bruno Boussagol said on Monday they will take an "intelligent" approach to captain Antoine Dupont's return to full training before this weekend's Rugby World Cup quarter-final

The 26-year-old scrum-half had surgery on a fractured cheekbone last month but will be able to take part in contact sessions in the build-up to Sunday's last eight tie with holders South Africa.

Earlier on Monday, Dupont was given the green light by his surgeon to return to full sessions with the squad, days out from the highly-anticipated match at the Stade de France.

"Everything went very quickly because he didn't suffer any after-effects from his trauma," Boussagol told reporters.

"The pre-requisite of his being to return to contact training was the agreement of the surgeon.

"Last week he did individual contact with conditioning coaches, everything was monitored.

"He will train normally, but we will do it intelligently," he added.

Boussagol said the half-back has been considering wearing a scrum cap for this weekend's game.

"We're working on it, he's already tried that type of protection," Boussagol said.

"There are two aspects that are essential with wearing a scrum cap.

"His vision nor his hearing can't be affected by it.

"There’s a lot of noise in the stadium and Antoine communicates a lot.

"They are two things that need to be evaluated and tested during training," he added.

'Dangerous' Dupont

Maxime Lucu deputised at number nine for Dupont in their final pool game against Italy, with Baptiste Couilloud coming off the bench in the 60-7 victory.

Dupont's importance to France is highlighted by his record as captain he is yet to lose on home soil as skipper, a run dating back to 14 Tests.

He took over the role from flanker Charles Ollivon in November 2021 and led the side to the 2022 Six Nations Grand Slam as well as convincing Test wins over New Zealand and the Springboks.

"We know he's a dangerous player and where the threats lie," South Africa scrum-half Faf de Klerk told reporters on Monday.

"I think he gives them a lot of confidence.

"It doesn't really affect us if he plays or doesn't play.

"We prepare to play against a team and not against individuals," he added.

His return is also a positive for tournament organisers with Dupont being used as a poster boy for the competition, having featured on advertising campaigns for water bottles, smartphones and the national rail service over recent weeks.

On a negative note for France is that first-choice hooker Julien Marchand remains unavailable due to a hamstring issue suffered in the tournament-opening win over New Zealand.

Head coach Fabien Galthie is set to name his side for the Springboks game on Friday.

"It's unlikely we'll see him in the squad for the game to come. He has to pass quite a few tests between now and the end of the week," Boussagol said.

"If he's with us now, it's because he can play again, which we're hoping will be at the latest next week," he added.

AFP