The serious injury sustained by key prop Sylvain Marconnet is a major blow to France in both the short and long term, according to Les Bleus captain Raphael Ibanez.
Marconnet has been ruled out of the RBS 6 Nations Championship and the rest of the season after fracturing his fibula and tibia while skiing at the weekend.
The 30-year-old is France's most experienced prop and is a regular fixture in head coach Bernard Laporte's starting line-up.
Indeed, he has featured in all of France's games so far in this year's RBS 6 Nations, despite Laporte's insistence on rotation during this tournament.
Initial indications are he will be out for four months, but there have been suggestions he could miss the World Cup, which begins at the start of September.
Ibanez, Marconnet's front-row colleague for Les Bleus, was sad to hear the news, and admits the first problem will be finding cover for the Stade Francais star for France's crunch clash with England at Twickenham on Sunday.
'It is a really tough blow for him first of all, but also for his club and France,' said Ibanez.
'Moreover, he has been in very good form since the start of the season. Knowing him, he will be eyeing a return as soon as possible.
'For Twickenham, it is a problem - it is hard to replace a prop who has 71 caps.'
Marconnet was on a skiing holiday with his family in the French Alps resort of Sybelles when he suffered the injury.
He immediately contacted Christophe Dominici, his Stade Francais team-mate and one of the senior players in the French squad, about the accident.
The message was then relayed onto Laporte and team manager Jo Maso.
Maso said: 'It is a blow for us, but especially for him. The important thing is he returns as soon as possible.'
Fabien Galthie, head coach at Stade Francais, added: 'It is catastrophic for Sylvain, because his World Cup is in jeopardy.'
Ironically, Stade are one of the few French clubs who do not ban their players from going skiing, a leisure pursuit in which injuries are common.