The players of the XV of France returned one by one Sunday evening, to find their room in their 5-star hotel in Aix-en-Provence, after three days of rest, mostly spent with family. But one of the rooms remained desperately empty: that of Captain Antoine Dupont.
The scrum-half of the Blues fractured the maxillo-zygomatic last Thursday against Namibia (96-0), and had surgery the next day. He spends the beginning of his convalescence in the Southwest, and it is therefore the only one of the 33 Blues who was missing from the call to resume training this Monday, under the Provencal sun.
"Obviously, it's a hard blow to lose a player, Antoine is our captain, the best player in the world, recognizes Arthur Vincent, the three-quarters center Montpellier. We support him enormously, we think strongly of him. The Blues took news of their captain during these three days of rest agitated by the soap opera on the injury of Dupont and its consequences.
"He told us he was doing pretty well, that's positive"
"All the players have heard from him," confirms pillar Reda Wardi. Individually, I have had them as well. From the exchanges that everyone had, he told us that he was doing pretty well, which is positive. The group hopes that he will be able to join us soon. »
Because the express operation undergone by the Toulouse, from Friday evening, suggests a quick return. When exactly? "It's not clear what will happen," admits Arthur Vincent. The staff will manage. But Antoine will be reinstated, he is part of group life. This return should be made within the week, probably Thursday, although Dupont will probably not be able to resume training before October 1.
Without Antoine Dupont of course. Julien Marchand has resumed the race but is not present on the field. Paul Boudehent, resting safely concussion protocol, remained at the edge of the field.
— jgbontinck (@JGBONTINCK) September 25, 2023
"He will bring his expertise on certain phases of the game"
But even without playing, the return of the captain is eagerly awaited by his teammates. "Antoine will be with the group, he will be with us," says Arthur Vincent. His presence alone is important. Humanly and tactically. He will be there for video sessions, training, he will bring his expertise on certain phases of the game. "Antoine is part of the group, there was no debate about it," Wardi said.
What if he returns too soon, at the risk of endangering his health, as some voices fear? "He is very well accompanied, by his relatives, by all the health specialists. They know how to manage, we know it will be well done, answers Vincent, who has already experienced a relapse (knee ligaments) after a first injury. In the end, it will be his decision, it will be the best that will be taken, because we are very well supported. It's going to be fine! »
Optimism is in order, so among the Blues. Especially since the other injured are better: Grégory Alldritt, after a small knee scare, trained normally, Julien Marchand, injured against New Zealand, resumed racing and Paul Boudehent, who successfully passed a test called "HIA 3" (Head Injury Assessment) after his concussion against Namibia, will be able to resume contacts in twelve days. All are applying against Italy, the next match of the XV of France, on October 6 in Lyon.