France 'extremely concerned' as Dupont suffers possible jaw fracture

Scrum-half sustained the injury in a head-to-head clash with Namibia's Johan Deysel, whose initial yellow card was upgraded to a red

France's Antoine Dupont receives treatment after taking a knock to the head during the Rugby World Cup Pool A match against Namibia at the Stade de Marseille in Marseille, France. AP
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France were sweating on the condition of captain Antoine Dupont after the mercurial scrum-half suffered a suspected jaw fracture during the hosts' record 96-0 victory against Namibia at the Rugby World Cup on Thursday.

Dupont sustained the injury in the 46th minutes 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.

He then left the Stade de Marseille to undergo medical assessments.

"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."

France were already without their number one fly-half 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 of Dupont's injury.

"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.

On ice

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 number 1 [loosehead prop], 3 [tigh-head prop] and 5 [lock] 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."

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 least 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."

Updated: September 22, 2023, 8:36 AM