TOKYO, 22 Sep – France centre Wesley Fofana made Rugby World Cup 2019 the final goal of his international career but, at 31 years old and with 48 caps, the Clermont player will not be able to fulfil his dream.
Fofana, pictured above making a break in a match against Ireland, was forced to withdraw from the squad just before France's game against Argentina on Saturday. He had injured his left thigh in Les Bleus' final World Cup warm-up match, a 47-19 victory over Italy on 30 August. Complications then forced him out of action for three weeks.
The Pool C game with the Pumas ended in a 23-21 win for France and, soon after, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) released information about Fofana's withdrawal, which made him the 11th player in Les Bleus history to be selected for a World Cup and not play a minute of it. The others in that group are Jean-Baptiste Lafond (1987), Philippe Benetton, Louis Armary, Henri Sanz, Thierry Devergie, Pierre Hontas, Philippe Gimbert, Michel Courtiols (1991), Olivier Sarramea (1999) and Xavier Garbajosa (2003).
Fofana returns to France for treatment.
🔴 Suite à une complication de sa blessure à la cuisse contractée lors de #FRAITA, @wesleyfofana (@ASMOfficiel) est forfait pour le reste de la #RWC2019. Il est remplacé dans le groupe par @PlBarassi (@LeLOURugby) #NeFaisonsXV #XVdeFrance pic.twitter.com/9GmiQUpaGT— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) 21 septembre 2019
While French rugby fans might have expected Toulon's 23-year-old Anthony Belleau - who has 12 caps - to be named as Fofana's replacement, the FFR's choice was seen as a surprise by many as Pierre-Louis Barassi was called up for international duty for the first time.
Barassi will join the French squad this week in Kumamoto and teams up once again with fly-half Romain Ntamack and prop Demba Bamba, who, like the 21-year-old Lyon centre, were part of France's World Rugby U20 Championship-winning squad in 2018.