While waiting for a hypothetical return, the first training sessions of the week will allow us to see more clearly: who of Maxime Lucu or Baptiste Couilloud will start as a starter against the Italians on October 6 in Lyon? Who will rise in rank and become captain of the XV of France?

Victim of a fracture in the face Thursday, operated Friday, the scrum-half of Toulouse and the Blues found neither the hotel of the selection in Aix-en-Provence Sunday nor the Georges-Carcassonne stadium Monday with the rest of his teammates, already orphaned by his partner of the hinge, the opener Romain Ntamack, injured in preparation and forfeit for a competition that the France has the ambition to win.

The federation announced Saturday the return of Dupont within the group "within a few days". As for a return to play, it is difficult to be affirmative for an injury that requires, in the opinion of some specialists, a minimum of four weeks off.

However, according to sources close to the management, an express return to the lawns is hoped for the quarterfinals, on October 14 or 15, a little more than twenty days after his injury.

If the sporting logic is respected, the opponent will be South Africa. Given the violence of the fight deployed by the Springboks in their match against Ireland on Saturday, it will be necessary that the maxillo-zygomatic fracture of Dupont is completely restored...

"Touched but not sunk. Show must go on. Can't wait to find the group, "posted on his social networks Dupont, who began his race against the clock to be able to find a World Cup-2023 of which he is a headliner.

Victim of an uncontrolled tackle by Namibian captain Johan Deysel, the 26-year-old will have a few extra days of rest with his family, just to recover from the concussion and general anesthesia.

France XV captain Antoine Dupont (centre) must resolve to leave the pitch after suffering a facial injury against Namibia at Mondia-2023, on September 21, 2023 in Marseille © CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP

Marchand resumes racing

"Obviously, it's a hard blow to lose a player, whoever he is. Especially since Antoine is our captain, he's the best player in the world... He had a lot of support. We have all been unhappy, we are all faced with this kind of situation. We think of him," says Arthur Vincent.

The centre knows what it's like to burn the steps to return to competition: two seasons in a row, he has defied the odds to return from serious injuries and take part in major events, a Top 14 final won in 2022 with Montpellier, then this World Cup.

"Everyone has their role in this group. Having Antoine with us, during video sessions, at training... It's important. Even if he's not necessarily going to play with us. He will surely have things to say, to bring his expertise on certain phases of the game. Just his presence is important, humanly and tactically," Vincent said.

"He's really well surrounded," he says. The staff will manage it in the best way. It is he who will decide on his return, in agreement with his surgeon."

The same goes for Reda Wardi. "We all checked in individually because the whole group hopes he will join us soon. He is an important player," assured the pillar of La Rochelle.

The XV of France recorded however good news Monday: the hooker Julien Marchand, victim of a thigh injury during the opening match against the All Blacks (27-13) on September 8, has resumed the race, said the French Rugby Federation.

© 2023 AFP