French captain Antoine Dupont will explore the option of wearing a custom-made face mask in order to return for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.
Widely regarded as the world’s best rugby player, Dupont fractured his cheek in Les Bleus win over Namibia and had surgery last Saturday. According to reports circulating in France, he will visit a specialist to have a mask designed to would protect his healing cheek that would be in accordance with regulations set by World Rugby.
Thin face coverings are allowed by the governing body - but no hard materials are permitted and a player cannot wear anything that is thicker than 5mm or is denser than 60kg per cubic metre - a strict set of guidelines for the specialist to work with.
The move is indicative of how important Dupont is to France’s campaign - while he is unlikely to be ready for their final pool match against Italy on October 6, having his presence in their preparations will bolster the side’s confidence as he is scheduled to return to the squad on Friday.
Perhaps Dupont could reach out to All Black Ardie Savea - who wore protective goggles in the 2019 World Cup - although his were prescription and used in a bid to correct poor vision rather than prevent injury.
Savea first noticed his vision deteriorating a few years prior to the 2019 World Cup but after it continued to worsen, he sought advice from All Blacks doctor Tony Page.
“Doc notified me that World Rugby had some goggles that were approved and everyone has been really supportive.
“In terms of vision and seeing, it’s pretty sweet, and it’s now just a matter of getting used to them.”
It’ll be this getting used to things that will be a priority for Dupont and France - he will to test a mask, should he get one, with contact and high-intensity training to see how it performs and then make subsequent adjustments.
The fact they play Italy in their final pool match - in nine days time - before the quarter-finals is advantageous for France. There is no need to risk Dupont in that match and then he will have a further eight days before the quarters to test a mask.
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