France have confirmed that Antoine Dupont has undergone surgery on his facial injury but could begin a “gradual return to sport” in the next few days.
The hosts’ captain suffered a fractured cheekbone during his side’s record win over Namibia after a tackle from Johan Deysel.
Dupont spent Thursday night and Friday in hospital, undergoing surgery on Friday night as he targets a return to action at some point during the World Cup.
And a statement released by the French Rugby Federation (FFR) has confirmed that Dupont will make a managed return to the squad next week.
“Following his injury suffered during the France – Namibia match, Antoine Dupont underwent surgery on September 22 around 11pm at the Purpan University Hospital in Toulouse,” the statement read.
“In a few days, he will be able to return to the French team in a gradual return to sport under medical supervision.”
Former England centre Brad Barritt played a Champions Cup game for Saracens in March 2018 only five days after undergoing surgery on his own broken cheekbone.
However, depending on the severity of the fracture, it is thought that Dupont’s injury would typically carry a four-to-six week recovery timeframe.
That could yet allow the scrum half to return for the semi-finals, if France progress to that stage of the tournament.
Fabien Galthie’s side play their final pool fixture against Italy on 7 October, a game that Dupont is all but certain to miss.
Bordeaux Begles’ Maxime Lucu and Baptiste Couilloud of Lyon, who featured in the 96-0 Namibia thrashing, are the other two scrum halves in Galthie’s squad.
“We have three scrum-halves, and Baptiste Couilloud made an excellent start [against Namibia],” attack coach Laurent Labit said of the options at France’s disposal. “Maxime Lucu has been with us for a long time. We’ll see. We’re looking ahead to the Italy game and we’ll be going there with our best team.
“We have three days to recover before looking ahead to the Italy match in a fortnight’s time. We’re going to do what we always do. We’ll get together to decide on the best team based on the strategy we’ve chosen for this match. Both Baptiste and Maxime will be able to start. We’ll think about it after looking at our opponents.”
Nambia captain Deysel, meanwhile, has apologised to Dupont for the head-to-head collision that caused the injury.
“I would like to extend my best wishes to Antoine Dupont. Clearly, I meant no harm,” said Deysel.
“Everything happened very quickly and I couldn’t get my head out of the way quick enough, resulting in a head clash. I know the rules and immediately knew that I was at fault.
“I spoke with Fabien Galthie [France head coach] immediately after the match and sent my best wishes and apologies to Antoine, both personally and via the France team doctor.
“He is a great player and person, and I wish him a speedy recovery.”