October 4, 2019 / 6:42 AM / 12 days ago

France fullback Ramos, hooker Mauvaka ruled out of World Cup

OITA, Japan (Reuters) - Three-times finalists France have lost fullback Thomas Ramos and hooker Peato Mauvaka for the World Cup in a mounting injury toll for Les Bleus in Japan.

Rugby Union - France Training - National Rugby Center, Marcoussis, France - January 28, 2019 France's Thomas Ramos during training REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/Files

Ramos twisted his left ankle during Wednesday’s win over the United States in Fukuoka and will be replaced by La Rochelle back Vincent Rattez, who played the last of his two tests against South Africa in 2017.

Mauvaka felt pain in the captain’s run in the leadup to the U.S. game and a scan confirmed a hip muscle strain. He will be replaced by seven-test Toulon rake Christopher Tolofua.

France, who face Tonga in their third pool game in Kumamoto on Sunday, had already had winger Wesley Fofana and prop Demba Bamba ruled out of Japan by injuries.

France coach Jacques Brunel said both Ramos and Mauvaka’s recovery times exceeded 10 days, so he could not afford to keep them on his roster.

“It’s a handicap for us,” he told reporters in Kumamoto on Friday.

“We hope that in the next match nothing will happen. We will try to get them to come as soon as possible.”

Brunel also revealed that talented young scrumhalf Antoine Dupont, rested for the laboured 33-9 win over the U.S., was hampered with back soreness but included him in the reserves for the Tonga clash.

Baptiste Serin, who came off the bench to help France seal victory late against the U.S., will start in the number nine shirt against Tonga.

Brunel said he had always planned to limit 22-year-old Dupont, who wore the number nine shirt in the opening win against Argentina, to only one starting appearance in France’s first three pool matches.

“The team that we present today was the one we had planned for 10 days,” said Brunel.

“Regarding Antoine, I do not think (his back) calls into question his participation in a possible quarter-final.

“It is a small problem ... that must be managed. The proof is that he will participate this weekend.”

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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