France captain Ollivon set for long-term absence after serious knee injury

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Charles Ollivon has made 23 Test apperances since his France debut in 2014

France captain Charles Ollivon will miss this summer's tour of Australia after tearing a cruciate ligament in his left knee in the weekend's Top 14 loss at Castres, his club Toulon said on Monday.

Ollivon, who took over as Les Bleus skipper after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, was helped off the field a quarter of an hour into his side's defeat on Saturday.

The injury can take up to nine months to heal which would also rule the 28-year-old flanker out of the start of next season and potentially the November international Test series.

"The Toulon back-rower will have surgery," the club said.

"The whole Toulon team wish him the best recovery and hope to see him back on the field as quickly as possible."

France coach Fabien Galthie added: "Charles' injury saddens me. What I'm convinced of, knowing his exceptional force of character, is that we'll see him again very soon at his best level."

The 46-24 defeat by Castres saw Toulon finish eighth in the regular Top 14 season, missing out on a top-six play-off spot and also European Champions Cup qualification.

The match was Ollivon's sixth since May 1, a series that notably had a run of three (against Toulouse, Montpellier and Clermont) in the space on a week as the league tried to catch up on games postponed because of Covid-19 outbreaks.

France's tour to Australia sees them face the Wallabies three times in 10 days next month with the first Test in Sydney on July 7.

Galthie will be without players featuring in June 25's Top 14 final for the opening game of the tour due to quarantine rules in Australia.

France face Argentina on November 6 and Georgia a week later before playing New Zealand on November 20, which will also be the opening match of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in Paris.

Contenders to take over the captaincy include hooker Julien Marchand, who leads Toulouse, scrum-half Antoine Dupont and La Rochelle No. 8 Gregory Alldritt.