This is the image that everyone feared. That of Antoine Dupont, kneeling on the ground on the lawn of the Velodrome, groggy after a terrible clash with the Namibian Johan Deysel. Since this head-to-head contact, which forced the master to play the XV of France to leave his teammates to join the hospital, the concern is enormous. Back on a tense evening and night.
How did the injury happen?
It was in the 45th minute that the dreaded shock took place. While the Namibians have just scored their first try - which will eventually be canceled - on an interception, after conceding 54 points in the first half alone, all eyes are on Antoine Dupont, who remained on the ground. The captain of the Blues is visibly suffering, he holds his face.
Slowdowns quickly reinforce the concern. At the distribution as usual, the scrum-half shifts Matthieu Jalibert to his left, but still suffers the huge tackle of Johan Deysel, unable to stop his movement. Far too high on his supports, the center of Colomiers hits the right part of Antoine Dupont's face with his forehead. A huge shock, particularly violent, which defeats the Frenchman.
The concern is immediately visible in all eyes, including that of the main interested party. As he left the field, Antoine Dupont held his face, and his head movements did not bode well. His immediate return to the locker room does not reassure observers either. Johan Deysel also leaves his partners, first for a yellow card then transformed into red by the bunker, the new video device of the refereeing.
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How did the Blues react?
At the end of the match, despite the record victory of the Blues against very weak Namibians, all the attention is paid to the injury of Antoine Dupont, whose absence could prove catastrophic for the Blues. Fabien Galthié, the scowl, was not euphoric at the microphone of France 2. "He went off for exams," he said. There is a suspicion of crack or fracture in the maxilla. We will wait for the exams to move forward. »
In the mixed zone and then in the dressing room of the Blues, we only talk about the state of the captain. "There's a lot of stress. I hope it doesn't matter. He went out, he took a big hit. We know what it gives off humanly. He's my friend," says Cyril Baille. Pierre Bourgarit was also very concerned after the meeting. "Antoine we know, it's rare that he grimaces," insists the hooker.
However, no diagnosis has yet been made of the injury at the end of this match. In front of journalists, Fabien Galthié again evokes a "suspicion of crack or fracture of the maxilla". Visibly upset by this big blow, he is annoyed when asked if Antoine Dupont should not have been replaced at half-time to protect him, when the victory was already acquired. "We can't take out the fifteen players," he said. We had planned to change the two pillars and a second line (Woki). The others, who could be replaced, had to leave in the 55th minute. »
What is the first diagnosis?
This Friday morning, the cleaver falls. Antoine Dupont, the best player in the world in 2021, suffers from a "maxillozygomatic fracture". No period of unavailability is specified, however, a specialized surgeon still having to examine the Frenchman when the injury has deflated. Dupont remains - for now - with the Blues.
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In front of the media, Laurent Labit, Fabien Galthié's deputy in charge of the attack, confirms the uncertainty. "We will wait for the surgeon's verdict on Antoine's unavailability," explains the former Racing 92 coach. We will wait 48 or 72 hours to find out. They will then make the decision, but we do not want to project ourselves too quickly. »
The injury is serious, however, and the hope of seeing him again for a possible semi-final is slim. "If it is stable enough and there is no need to operate, it takes at least four weeks of immobilization," explains maxillofacial surgeon François Morel. A possible return at the end of the competition would then be possible. In the event of an operation, the trend would be quite different. "You have to wait four or five days for it to deflate before operating and then let at least four weeks pass. It would not be reasonable to have him play again at the World Cup, "says the surgeon.
What will happen in the next few hours?
After spending the night in the hospital, Antoine Dupont will now head to Toulouse to consult specialists. According to Didier Lacroix, president of Stade Toulousain, the captain of the Blues must see Professor Nicolas Sans (radiologist) then Professor Frédéric Lauwers, "a pundit of maxillofacial surgery, who is also waiting for Antoine to define what is the best path, operation or not".
The answer to this question will determine Antoine Dupont's future in the competition and, incidentally, in Group France. While everyone is already wondering who could replace the maestro of the XV of France, the staff prefers to take the time to have a definitive estimate of his unavailability before declaring him forfeit and calling a replacement, in all likelihood the reserve Baptiste Serin, who followed all the preparation of the Blues.
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In the meantime, players will enjoy some rest with their loved ones. A good way to get out of this terrible hangover that has overwhelmed them since Thursday night. "It's going to do them good until Sunday," said the assistant coach. Then, we have two weeks to work well, accompany them, discuss. But Antoine stays with us, everyone will be together. And it is together that they will face this new blow, after the injuries of Romain Ntamack (knee, forfeit), Paul Willemse (thigh, forfeit) or Julien Marchand (hamstring, absent at least four weeks after his injury against New Zealand).