Antoine Dupont injury overshadows magnificent France victory over Namibia

Captain sent for X-ray after head-to-head tackle as France crush opponents 96-0 in Rugby World Cup Group A match

Magnificent France romped to their biggest-ever rugby victory when they ran in 14 tries, including a hat-trick for Damian Penaud, to crush Namibia 96-0 in a raucous Marseilles Vélodrome on Thursday to keep their Rugby World Cup adventure rolling on.

But there were concerns for captain and talisman Antoine Dupont, who was forced off following a high hit from Namibia’s Johan Deysel and sent for X-rays. Any facial fracture could jeopardise his future involvement in the tournament.

France hit the ground running when Penaud caught a Dupont kick to score after seven minutes and did not let up as Jonathan Danty grabbed the second and Charles Ollivon the third after a brilliant handling move down the right wing.

Penaud and Danty each got their second before Thibaud Flament, Dupont and Louis Bielle-Biarrey made it eight in the first half for a 54-0 interval lead.


Divan Rossouw crossed the line for Namibia with an interception early in the second half but it was ruled out for the high hit on Dupont, which earned Deysel a red card and forced the France captain off the field worryingly holding his jaw.

Against 14 tiring men for 35 minutes France scored further tries through Baptiste Couilloud, Penaud’s hat-trick, Bielle-Biarrey and Ollivon’s second, Melvyn Jaminet and a penalty try, and, with Thomas Ramos landing 12 of his 13 conversions, they overhauled their previous record win, also against Namibia, 87-10 in the 2007 World Cup in Toulouse.

Despite topping the pool on 13 points after three wins, France are not yet guaranteed a quarter-final slot as New Zealand and Italy, who they face in their final fixture in two weeks, could still both overhaul them.

After the match, France assistant coach Raphaël Ibañez said of the Dupont incident: “It is a reminder how dangerous head-to-head contact can be. It was a big hit. We are doing some tests to make sure he is OK. He is a strong guy.”