Antoine Dupont makes timely return as France name side to face Springboks

Antoine Dupont makes timely return as France name side to face Springboks

Antoine Dupont has been named in France's starting line-up and will captain the side against the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final on Sunday.

Dupont's return is the only change to the starting XV that defeated Italy 60-7 in Les Bleus' final Pool A match.

The 2021 world player of the year was injured after a head-on-head tackle from Namibia captain Johan Deysel in Les Bleus' third pool match in Marseille on September 21, and sat out the match against Italy last Friday.

However, after undergoing surgery, the talismanic 26-year-old was cleared on Monday to return to full training, and says he is ready to lead his country in this weekend's box-office Stade de France showdown with the world champions.

"I feel very well," said Dupont at France's team announcement press conference on Friday.

"At the time I didn't know how serious the injury was so I thought the competition was over for me.

"I had to wait to get my hope back. I was lucky enough to have several weeks (to recover) and today I am fully capable to be ready for this game on Sunday."

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Dupont will play with a headguard but there is some risk associated with the decision to rush him back to action.

There are further changes on the bench, with head coach Fabien Galthie opting for a 6-2 split in favour of the forwards.

Dupont starts at scrumhalf for the first time since sustaining a facial fracture. He starts alongside Matthieu Jalibert who continues at flyhalf for France. Maxime Lucu, who started against Italy, moves to the bench as Baptiste Couilloud and Melvyn Jaminet drop out of the matchday 23.

The centres also remain unchanged as Jonathan Danty and Gael Fickou combine for the third straight match. Louis Bielle-Biarrey and Damian Penaud are the wingers, with the latter chasing the record for the most tries in a Rugby World Cup. Penaud is the top try-scorer in the competition, having scored six, just two shy of Jonah Lomu's 1999 benchmark of eight. Full-back Thomas Ramos rounds out the backline.

Into the pack and Galthie has stuck with the same eight that defeated Italy. Anthony Jelonch, Charles Ollivon and Gregory Alldritt make up the loose forwards. Cameron Woki and Thibaud Flament pack down in the second-row, with Cyril Baille (loosehead), Peato Mauvaka (hooker) and Uini Atonio (tighthead) in the front-row.

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Julien Marchand has not recovered in time to feature in the quarter-final after sustaining an injury in the tournament opener against New Zealand. This means that the front-row cover on the bench remains the same as hooker Pierre Bourgarit is joined by props Reda Wardi and Dorian Aldegheri.

Romain Taofifenua provides lock cover, with Francois Cros and Sekou Macalou covering the loose forwards. Lucu and Yoram Moefana are the backline replacements.

France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Antoine Dupont (c), 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Anthony Jelonch, 5 Thibaud Flmanet, 4 Cameron Woki, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Cyril Baille

Replacements: 16 Pierre Bourgarit, 17 Reda Wardi, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Francois Cros, 21 Sekou Macalou, 22 Maxime Lucu, 23 Yoram Moefana

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