Rugby World Cup: France captain Antoine Dupont cleared to train before clash against South Africa

Dupont at training.
Dupont at training. Photo credit: Getty

Antoine Dupont's chances of playing in France's quarter-final clash against defending champions South Africa at the World Cup were given a massive boost when he was cleared to resume rugby training on Monday.

The team captain underwent surgery on a broken cheekbone on Sept. 22 and after quickly going back to light training, was waiting for the green light from his surgeon to start making contact with other players.

Following the 26-year-old's visit to surgeon Frederic Lauwers in Toulouse, the French federation (FFR) said in a statement: "Antoine Dupont has obtained the authorisation to resume rugby training as early as today."

The French staff had said that the surgeon's clearance was key to Dupont's possible participation in Sunday's clash against the Springboks, adding that the player would have the final say on whether he would want to be on the field. 

"Contacts (with other players) will be made quickly. We have three days to test him and see how he reacts before announcing the team," France Health manager Bruno Boussagol told a press conference.

"We're in contact with him on a daily basis and so far so good. This afternoon, he'll be with the fitness coach during training. Tomorrow, he'll be available to the coaches to do what the others are doing."

Should he feel ready, head coach Fabien Galthie and his staff will also assess if he is to start, possibly with a helmet.

"We've been discussing the use of a helmet. We're working on it, he's tested this kind of protection. He has to be able to train with it without his hearing or sight being impaired," Boussagol explained, adding that 'no risks' were taken. 

"We need to help Antoine get into the best possible shape. We need to be by his side so that he can be available for selection in the best possible form."

Maxime Lucu deputised in France's final Pool A game against Italy and the scrumhalf did a fine job with club partner and flyhalf Mathieu Jalibert as Les Bleus demolished Italy 60-7 last Friday in Lyon.

France won all their group games, including a 27-13 victory against three-time champions New Zealand in the tournament's opening match.

Dupont was rested for the following game against Uruguay but started to face Namibia, a test France won 96-0. 

In the 45th minute, he left the pitch after a head-on-head collision with Namibia captain Johan Deysel and underwent surgery the same night in Toulouse.

His teammates welcomed the return of Dupont to training.

"We're all very happy that he's coming back to training. The whole group hopes (that he will play), even if there are other solutions in this position," winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey told reporters.

France have suffered several injuries in the build-up to the tournament and during the competition, with flyhalf Romain Ntamack both ruled out before the start while hooker Julien Marchand is still recovering from a thigh injury he picked up during the All Blacks game. 

Marchand is likely to miss Sunday's game.

"He is continuing his recovery but it is unlikely that we will see him against South Africa," said Boussagol.