Antoine Dupont is to explore the possibility of having a custom-made mask fitted this week in an effort to return to spearhead France’s World Cup campaign. Dupont had surgery last Friday after fracturing his cheek against Namibia but could return as early as the quarter-finals with the hosts desperate to have their talisman back in action.
According to reports in France, Dupont will see a specialist, who will attempt to design a protective mask in line with World Rugby regulations. The sport’s governing body allows players to wear thin face coverings but says that there must be no hard materials and that a player must not wear any item of which any part is thicker than 5mm when uncompressed or is denser than 60kg per cubic metre.
The former France No 8 Imanol Harinordoquy wore a mask while on club duty for Biarritz in 2010 but Dupont would not be permitted to wear a similarly elaborate bandage given World Rugby’s regulations and it remains to be seen what the specialist can design.
It demonstrates how eager France are to have Dupont, who is due to join up with the squad again on Thursday, back at their disposal. He is the poster boy for the competition and although their final pool match against Italy on October 6th will come too soon, there is hope he can appear in the knock-out stages.
Meanwhile, Namibia have made seven changes to their starting line-up for their final Pool A match against Uruguay in Lyons on Wednesday, one of which has been forced through the absence of captain Johan Deysel, who was red-carded for the tackle that led to Dupont’s injury.
Prop Johan Coetzee and wing Gerswin Mouton are therefore the only players to have started all four matches in France.
Coach Allister Coetzee has long targeted this fixture as the one to break his team’s record run of 25 consecutive losses in the World Cup since they made their debut in 1999. – Guardian