France’s Six Nations hopes have been dealt a blow with centre Wesley Fofana ruled out of the tournament after rupturing his Achilles tendon yesterday.
The quick and burly Fofana, who has 44 Test caps for France and has scored 14 tries, is a key player in midfield for coach Guy Noves. He sustained the injury on his own late in the first half while playing for club side Clermont Auvergne in the 48-26 European Champions Cup win over Exeter.
Clermont said in a statement the 29-year-old Fofana needs an operation on his left leg “that will keep him out for a long time,” adding that “he is out of the Six Nations”.
France open their campaign against England a week on Saturday.
Clermont, meanwhile, will be the top seeds in the Champions Cup quarter-finals after their victory over Exeter. Five first-half tries sealed the bonus point and a return to Stade Marcel Michelin in the last eight.
Benjamin Kayser and Noa Nakaitaci set the tone with early scores, before Fofana, Nick Abendanon and a penalty try earned a 34-0 lead at the break.
James Short pulled a try back before Peceli Yato and Alexandre Lapandry crossed, but scores from Ollie Devoto, Ollie Woodburn and Michele Campagnaro underlined Exeter’s never-say-die attitude.
Munster also have a home Champions Cup quarter-final to look forward to in the spring after completing the double over Racing 92 with a 22-10 win at Thomond Park
The Pool 1 winners, boasting the tournament’s best defence with just four tries conceded, advance as second seeds for the knockout stages.
Simon Zebo’s sixth try in four games against the Paris club broke the deadlock with Benjamin Dambielle’s sin-binning proving costly. The latter’s half-back partner Maxime Machenaud closed the gap to 7-3 by half-time.
Beaten 32-7 by the same opposition at home a fortnight ago, Racing produced a much-improved performance in Limerick, with a Henry Chavancy try in response to a Tyler Bleyendaal penalty and Ronan O’Mahony’s 48th-minute try.
But Rassie Erasmus’ men were not to be denied their fifth pool victory as Andrew Conway played in replacement Ian Keatley for the clinching 70th-minute try.
Chris Ashton’s try propelled Saracens to a 10-3 victory over Toulon at Allianz Park in a result that saw both teams qualify for the Champions Cup knockout phase from Pool 3.
The win secured the reigning champions a home quarter-final, while Leigh Halfpenny’s penalty posted the crucial bonus point that ensured the French side also progressed.
In the other Pool 3 match AJ MacGinty’s late penalty ended Sale Sharks’ run of ten consecutive defeats as they overcame the Scarlets 25-23 at the AJ Bell Stadium. Neither side will progress to the quarter-finals, however.
Ulster finished their disappointing European season in downbeat fashion with a 26-22 defeat at home to Bordeaux-Begles.