France’s Six Nations chances have been dealt a cruel blow with midfielder Wesley Fofana ruled out of the tournament with a ruptured achilles.
The 29-year-old suffered the injury late in the first half of Clermont Auvergne’s 48-26 bonus point win over Exeter Chiefs in the Champions Cup.
Clermont have issued a statement which confirmed the injury, and said Fofana will meet a surgeon on Sunday with a timeline on his return unknown.
It was a bittersweet afternoon for Clermont coach Franck Azema, who secured top seeding in Europe with the big win.
“We are coming out as first seeds which is a nice start to the European campaign. We will be proud to play our Champions Cup quarter-final here,” he said.
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter believes his side will be better equipped for an assault on the European Champions Cup next season after the humbling result.
The damage was done by half-time as the hosts ran-in five unanswered tries to go in 34-0 ahead.
Benjamin Kayser and Noa Nakaitaci set the tone with scores in the first 10 minutes, before Wesley Fofana, Nick Abendanon and a penalty try earned a home quarter-final for the Top14 side.
James Short went over in the first minute of the second-half to get Exeter on the scoreboard, but Peceli Yato and Alexandre Lapandry re-established Clermont’s dominance.
However, Ollie Devoto, Ollie Woodburn and Michele Campagnaro all scored in a second-half comeback to earn a bonus-point.
And Baxter believes his men will learn from their experience at Stade Marcel Michelin.
He said: “I don’t see why we can’t win this competition one day. We are still a relatively young side and you have to go through these things when you are developing.
“Clermont have been banging at the door for years, and you can get close without winning things.
“This is a good kick in the pants for us, when Clermont beat us at home it turned out to be positive for us because it made us challenge ourselves.
“And next time we’re in a must win game, we must turn up in the right frame of mind and dictate what happens on the field.
“These boys will be better for the experience but we have to live in the here and now and it wasn’t good enough.
“You have to learn, and we took part in the game in the second-half which I give the players credit for.”
Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/18524860/fofana-ruled-six-nations
Fofana ruled out of Six Nations
www.espn.co.uk – RUGBY