Dupont underwent surgery on Friday after suffering a fractured cheekbone during the hosts’ record win over Namibia.
An estimated recovery time of four to six weeks was suggested for the French captain, perhaps leading to a return come semi-final weekend if France make it that far, but a new report has suggested the brilliant scrum half might be back even sooner.
Rugby newspaper Midi Olympique suggest that Dupont is meeting with a specialist to discuss the making of a custom-built protective mask that might allow him to play while the injury is still healing.
World Rugby’s regulations prohibit the wearing of a rigid mask for safety reasons, while the thickness is also specified.
“No player must wear equipment of which any part has a thickness greater than 5mm,” reads article 12, paragraph four of the global governing body’s regulations.
France will top Pool A if they win their final fixture against Italy on Friday 6 October and progress to the quarter finals.
Laurent Labit, France’s attack coach, said last week that all involved were aware of the magnitude of a home World Cup, but insisted that Dupont’s health would come first when considering a possible return.
“Yes, it’s a very important competition, almost the sporting event of a lifetime for some,” Labit explained. “it’s a World Cup on home soil with a team that can claim overall victory.
“This is obviously a factor that should weigh heavily when the decision is made. But the final choice will depend on the surgeon and Antoine. The specialist knows who Antoine Dupont is and he’s aware of what he’s playing in.”
Maxime Lucu, of Bordeaux Begles, and Lyon’s Baptiste Couilloud are the other scrum halves in Fabien Galthie’s squad.