The blow is tough for the XV of France. Romain Ntamack is forced to withdraw less than a month before the opening of the World Cup in France on September 8. The star fly-half suffers a ruptured cruciate ligament in his left knee and sees his dreams of home glory vanish.
The cause of the harm is this veneer on his vis-à-vis Finn Russell, in the 56th minute of the preparation meeting, Saturday August 12 against Scotland (30-27 in the end for the Blues). The Toulousain (24 years old, 37 selections) had left the lawn with his face closed, but on his two feet and without really limping. After the meeting, coach Fabien Galthié wanted to be reassuring at a press conference: “We preferred to take it out so that it remains without consequence”, he had explained, evoking, after a quick examination of the doctor and the physiotherapists of the group, only a “light ligament tension”.
I’ll be back pic.twitter.com/HPO9rVpFbC
— Romain Ntamack (@RomainNtamack) August 14, 2023
The ace. Additional explorations carried out on Monday August 14 revealed a much more serious injury. A rupture of the cruciate ligament(s) does not offer the slightest hope of recovery in a few weeks. Romain Ntamack must leave the XV of France but should also be unavailable for a good part of the season for his club Stade Toulouse.
Matthieu Jalibert or Thomas Ramos to replace him
The Blues had so far been rather preserved by the bad news, apart from the case of Anthony Jelonch, the third line hoping to recover in time from an absolutely similar injury which earned him an operation last March. However, they will also have to do without their left pillar Cyril Baille in the coming days. The Toulousain (29 years old, 44 selections), injured in the right calf at the end of the match against Scotland (“musculo-aponeurotic detachment of the internal gastrocnemius”, according to the FFR), will be absent for “five to six weeks”. He is not giving up on the World Cup for the moment but will probably miss the start of the competition.
In the absence of Romain Ntamack, it is the opening half of Bordeaux-Bègles, Matthieu Jalibert, who should be the starting number 10 during the World Cup, which the Blues start with a shock against the All Blacks. Fabien Galthié also has another possibility, which was also used after Romain Ntamack’s exit against Scotland: position back Thomas Ramos in 10, a versatile player who has already held the position during his career. This should animate the reflection during the next few days of Fabien Galthié, who must announce Monday August 21 the list of 33 players definitively called up to compete in the World Cup.
During the previous edition in 2019, the XV of France had been deprived before the start of the competition of an important part of its device, the center Wesley Fofana, also injured in the left knee during a preparation match against the Italy three weeks before the event. At the time, Romain Ntamack, who was experiencing his first World Cup, reacted: “We know it can happen, but you shouldn’t say to yourself: ‘Hey, I’m going to play so as not to get injured’, because that would be the best way to get injured. » Saturday evening, author of a superb test, the Toulouse opener did not calculate. It’s not his type. The twist of fate is terrible.