France lose star fly-half to injury ahead of the Rugby World Cup

Jared Wright
France flyhalf Romain Ntamack ahead of the Rugby World Cup warm-up match against Scotland

France flyhalf Romain Ntamack ahead of the Rugby World Cup warm-up match against Scotland

France have been dealt a massive setback ahead of their home Rugby World Cup with fly-half Romain Ntamack ruled out through injury.

The playmaker will miss the tournament after sustaining an injury in Les Bleus’ second Rugby World Cup warm-up match against Scotland.

The 24-year-old scored a try before half-time in Saturday’s fixture before he was forced off the pitch in the 55th minute of the 30-27 victory.

Romain Ntamack to miss the Rugby World Cup

The coaching staff weren’t too concerned about the injury after the match.

“Romain underwent a small hyperextension of the knee. We preferred to take him out of the game so there could be no further damage,” head coach Fabien Galthie said following the win.

However, it looks as if their worst fears have come true, with the fly-half reportedly set to miss the entire tournament.

France Rugby have confirmed that Ntamack has ruptured cruciate ligaments in his left knee (ACL injury), which will sideline him for the tournament and a large chunk of Toulouse’s 2023/24 season.

The 37-Test cap fly-half has been a key cog in the France team since Galthie took charge of the side, with the French head coach relying heavily on the Toulouse axis of him and Antoine Dupont in the big games.

He shone on the 2022 Six Nations, starting all five games as Les Bleus ended a 12-year wait for a Grand Slam title.

Ntamack also produced a standout performance against the All Blacks last November before starting all five Six Nations fixtures earlier this year.

2023 would have been his second Rugby World Cup after he made France’s final 31-man squad four years ago.

The then 20-year-old managed to force his way into the starting XV during the tournament, claiming the first-choice fly-half role ahead of veteran Camille Lopez.

Anthony Jelonch returns ahead of schedule

While Ntamack’s injury is a huge blow for Les Bleus, the team did get some positive news, with back-rower Anthony Jelonch rejoining the training squad.

Like Ntamack, Jelonch ruptured ligaments in his knee and has been sidelined since the Six Nations win over Scotland in February but looks on track to make the World Cup.

The back-rower will need to complete a host of medical tests before he is cleared for contact sessions and a return to action.

Finally, France also confirmed that prop Cyril Baille will be sidelined for five to six weeks after sustaining a calf injury at the weekend.

READ MORE: Rugby World Cup warm-ups: Five things we learnt from Saturday’s matches