Six Nations: Dupont cleared to captain France after recovering from COVID

By Sports Desk February 04, 2022

France talisman Antoine Dupont has recovered from coronavirus in time to captain Les Bleus in their Six Nations opener against Italy on Sunday.

World Rugby Player of the Year Dupont had withdrawn from his country's initial squad for the Championship having tested positive, yet he has now been cleared to return for matchday one.

The scrum-half, who is skipper in place of the injured Charles Ollivon, was the 2020 Player of the Championship and starred again in 2021 as France came agonisingly close to the title, leading the tournament with five try assists.

Four of those assists came in last year's meeting with Italy, becoming the first player to achieve that feat in a single game in Six Nations history.

Les Bleus are not quite clear of COVID-19 for this clash, however, as coach Fabien Galthie will be absent following his positive test, meaning general manager Raphael Ibanez is in charge.

He comes up against Kieran Crowley in his first Six Nations match as Italy coach in Saint-Denis.

Crowley has named a youthful Azzurri side, including two debutants in the XV in Tommaso Menoncello and Toa Halafihi.

Italy have only won one of 24 away Tests against France – back in March 1997 – and come into this match on a record 32-game losing run in the Six Nations.

 

France team: Melvyn Jaminet, Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Gabin Villiere, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont (captain); Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Uini Atonio, Cameron Woki, Paul Willemse, Anthony Jelonch, Dylan Cretin, Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements: Peato Mauvaka, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Demba Bamba, Romain Taofifenua, Francois Cros, Maxime Lucu, Yoram Moefana, Thomas Ramos.

Italy team: Edoardo Padovani, Tommaso Menoncello, Juan Ignacio Brex, Marco Zanon, Montanna Ioane, Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney; Danilo Fischetti, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Tiziano Pasquali, Niccolo Cannone, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro (captain), Toa Halafihi.

Replacements: Epalahame Faiva, Ivan Nemer, Giosue Zilocchi, Marco Fuser, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani, Callum Braley, Leonardo Marin.

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