Rugby World Cup Overview: Dupont Returns After Cheekbone Surgery

It has been yet another pulsating edition of the Rugby World Cup this year in France as we now build up to the quarter-finals at the weekend.

So far, across the four pools, the World Cup has almost followed the World Rankings script. The top two countries in the world, Ireland and France, passed their group stage test with flying colours, each winning four from four to book their place in the quarters.

England and Wales, currently sixth and seventh in the world respectively, achieved the same clean sweep feat. New Zealand, South Africa, and Argentina all confidently made their way through as group runners-up, while Fiji narrowly squeaked ahead of Australia on points difference alone.

That makes Fiji the lowest-ranked country still in the competition, at tenth in the world, while Scotland are the highest-ranked team to taste an early exit (fifth in the world). This perhaps comes as little surprise though, as the Tartan army was placed into a group of death alongside Ireland and South Africa.

After 40 group stage matches, we now have our eight quarter-finalists and our four match-ups for the weekend:

Wales vs Argentina – Saturday 14 October

Ireland vs New Zealand – Saturday 14 October

England vs Fiji – Sunday 15 October

France vs South Africa – Sunday 15 October

Away from the rugby pitch itself, there has been great news on the recovery of France captain, Antoine Dupont, who rejoined the World Cup squad following surgery this week.

The 26-year-old star suffered a facial fracture in a 96-0 victory over Namibia in the group stages in September after a clash of heads with Johan Deysel. The Namibian player was eventually awarded a red card for the challenge, and Dupont was left with a nasty cheekbone injury.

Fortunately, the French team marching through to the quarter-finals has given their captain time to go under the knife and start his recovery. There is even hope that he could be fit in time for the quarters against South Africa on Sunday.

Dupont’s injury serves as another timely reminder of the importance of mouthguards in rugby to prevent longer-lasting damage to the teeth and jaw. The fact that the French captain may be able to return to action after mere weeks on the sidelines is nothing short of a miracle.

World Rugby is attempting to reduce the regularity of concussions and injuries like this by outlawing contact with the head. Hopefully, we see the full effect of those law changes in the years to come as the sport focuses more and more on the safety of its athletes.

For now, Dupont is on the mend and we have four tasty quarter-finals to look forward to!