By Nick Said
Marseille: France were sweating on the condition of captain Antoine Dupont after the mercurial halfback suffered a suspected jaw fracture during the hosts’ record 96-0 victory against Namibia at the Rugby World Cup on Thursday (Friday AEST).
“There is a suspicion of a crack or fracture of the maxillary bone,” head coach Fabien Galthie said.
“He currently is in hospital, he’s being tested, I can’t tell you more than that. I’m staying connected and will tell you more if I hear (from him). I’m writing to him now – live.
“We are never happy when a player gets injured. We are extremely concerned. It’s not the same as if we’d had no injuries.”
Dupont sustained the injury in the 46th minute in a head-to-head clash with Johan Deysel, whose initial yellow card was upgraded to a red.
The 26-year-old, voted best player in the world in 2021 and at the last two Six Nations, had his cheekbone iced before he walked off the field holding his jaw.
Antoine Dupont copped a knock shortly after half-time in Marseille and was forced from the field.Credit: Getty
He then left the Stade de Marseille to undergo medical assessments.
France were already without their No.1 five-eighth Romain Ntamack for the World Cup after the Toulouse player suffered a knee injury in a warm-up test last month.
“There was an interception, we were regrouping then saw the images on the big screen and we understood,” flanker Charles Ollivon said.
“It was late and to the head so it was quite clear. These things happen unfortunately, but we stayed concentrated and went forward straight away. You don’t have time to ponder things unfortunately.”
France next face Italy in Pool A on October 6.
Les Bleus were leading 54-0 at half-time and Dupont could have been put on ice but Galthie defended his choice to keep him on the pitch.
“What do you want me to say? You can’t change 15 players at half-time. We planned to change No.1, No.3 and 5 at half-time and rotate around 55 per cent (of the team),” he said.
“The role of this game was to give people game time.”
Louis Bielle-Biarrey runs in one of France’s 14 tries in front of a raucous Marseille crowd.Credit: AP
Dupont and almost all the usual starters had been rested for France’s second game, which they won 27-12 against Uruguay.
He reverted to his ‘premium’ team for Thursday’s game and the side delivered, scoring 14 tries as they routed the opposition.
Winger Damian Penaud touched down three times, becoming the first French player with at last a try in six consecutive Tests.
“He has proven his potential today. This evening was a special game,” said Galthie.
“The players stayed concentrated and played as a team. Damien came into this group, he was given space.”
France did not take anything for granted against an embarrassingly weak Namibia side.
“We wanted to play the game, we didn’t think it would necessarily go this way,” said Ollivon.
“We worked during the week on finding space and we were effective in that area but this is collective work to create space out wide.
“When we were 54-0 up, staying serious and committed is what brought us this record score.”
Watch all the action from Rugby World Cup 2023 on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport. Every match streaming ad-free, live and in 4K UHD with replays, mini matches and highlights available on demand.