France have confirmed superstar Antoine Dupont has suffered a facial fracture placing the rest of his Rugby World Cup in doubt.
Dupont was forced off injured in the second half of France's 96-0 win over Namibia on Thursday. Dupont suffered a clash of heads with Namibia's Johan Deysel in the 46th minute, an incident which led to Deysel being sent off.
The France captain was taken to hospital for a full diagnosis straight from the match and confirmation of his injury came through on Friday morning.
French Rugby said in a statement: "Following the match between France and Namibia, which took place on Sept. 21, 2023 in Marseille, Antoine Dupont, the captain of the France XV, suffered a maxillo-zygomatic fracture.
"A specialist surgical opinion was requested to precisely define the duration of his unavailability. Antoine Dupont remains with the France group."
France now wait on the latest prognosis hoping they could yet see Dupont play again in the World Cup but it depends on how far the hosts progress.
But the news of Dupont's injury will come as a bitter blow both for France and the tournament. The 26-year-old is a global superstar and arguably the finest player in men's rugby at present.
He has been the face of the World Cup and has been at the forefront of the team's improvement as captain under Fabien Galthie.
France assistant coach Laurent Labit said: "We're like everyone else. We're worried, we were happy with the match but it was a difficult evening for us. We're not making any plans too soon. A surgeon will tell us more about Antoine's availability. We'll wait another 48 or 72 hours and then we'll know more.
"We're going to give ourselves two or three days to get the opinion of a competent person who will tell us exactly what's going on. It will then be up to Antoine and the surgeon to make the decision. We can't think too far ahead."
On Dupont's absence, Labit added: "A World Cup is a long journey. The players prepared for a lot of injuries. That's inherent in our sport. In our minds, Antoine hasn't finished the competition yet. We're hoping for good news in the next three days. He's still in hospital, but he'll be discharged later today to recuperate and see the specialist."
After Thursday's match, Galthie cut a subdued figure as he waited for news on Dupont. "He's currently in hospital being tested. I can't tell you more than that," Galthie said. "I'm staying connected and will tell you more if I hear [from him]. I'm writing to him now. We are never happy when a player gets injured. We are extremely concerned."
With Dupont out of the rest of the group stages and a doubt for the knockouts, France will turn to Maxime Lucu or Baptiste Couilloud.
Deysel has meanwhile been the subject of social media abuse, L'Equipe reported. The Namibia captain has since set his Instagram account to private.