2023 Rugby World Cup in France

The 2023 Rugby World Cup, to be hosted by France, from 8 September to 21 October. With some of the matches taking place in Lyon, Marseilles and Nice – each just a short drive from Lourmarin, this is a great opportunity to make Provence your base for the duration of the tournament. More than 450,000 international spectators are expected to travel to France, so if you’re a fan you’ll probably want to think about booking sooner rather than later!

France as host

This will be the tenth men’s Rugby World Cup, taking place in the year of the 200th anniversary of the ‘invention’ of the sport by William Webb Ellis.

The French Rugby Federation bid was chosen by World Rugby in 2017, beating out bids by the South African Rugby Union and the Irish Rugby Football Union. It will be the second time France has hosted the Rugby World Cup, having previously hosted the 2007 event. It is a good warm-up for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris as it takes place less than a year before the Olympic opening ceremony.

Did you know that, according to a 2018 survey, 80% of the French public feels that Rugby World Cup 2023 is a good thing. The same number live less than two hours from a match site.

During the bid phase, France 2023 carried out an economic impact study that estimated the direct impacts of the competition at €1.1 billion. These benefits will mainly benefit regions in the host country. This study takes into account the increase in the number of foreign visitors due to the World Cup (450,000 in France in 2023), the growing media exposure of rugby, which draws an ever-increasing audience, and the total capacity of the stadia selected to host the competition.

Rugby World Cup 2023 will also create and support 17,000 jobs across the country.

Qualifying teams

In France in 2023, there will be 600 players from the five major continents, divided into 20 teams, all dreaming of lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy that is awarded to the winning country.

A total of 12 teams gained automatic qualification to the tournament after finishing in the top three of their pool at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. South Africa will be the defending champions, having beaten England 32-12 in finals of the 2019 tournament in Japan. France, as host, automatically qualify.

The remaining eight spaces will be decided by regional competitions (e.g. the Rugby Europe International Championships) followed by a few cross-regional play-offs. The final spot will be decided by a repechage tournament in November 2022.

Venues

The tournament matches will take place in the following venues:

• Saint-Denis (Paris) – Stade de France – Capacity: 80,698
• Marseille – Stade Vélodrome – Capacity: 67,394
• Décines-Charpieu (Lyon) – Parc Olympique Lyonnais – Capacity: 59,186
• Villeneuve-d’Ascq (Lille) – Stade Pierre-Mauroy – Capacity: 50,157
• Bordeaux – Matmut Atlantique – Capacity: 42,115
• Saint-Étienne – Stade Geoffroy-Guichard – Capacity: 41,965
• Nice – Allianz Riviera – Capacity: 35,624
• Nantes – Stade de la Beaujoire – Capacity: 35,322
• Toulouse – Stadium Municipal – Capacity: 33,150

The final will take place at the Stade de France.

Watching the matches

If you can’t make it to France in person (#sad), then there are other options. Broadcast in 209 countries, the 2015 Rugby World Cup was the most watched World Cup in history, reaching new audiences worldwide: the total audience reached the billion viewer mark. The most watched sporting event in 2015, it even got the best audiences of the year in the UK, France, New Zealand and Ireland! And in 2023, more than 3,000 media representatives are set to go to France to cover the 10th Rugby World Cup.

The matches will be broadcast by (among others):
– France: TF1 Group
– United Kingdom: ITV
– United States: NBC Sports

 

History of the Rugby World Cup

The event has been held every four years since 1987. A benchmark competition for international rugby, it represents the holy grail for any player. 

Although this competition makes its mark on men, it also marks History with a capital H. Remember the 1995 tournament held in South Africa, the anointment of the Springboks in the frenzied atmosphere of Ellis Park; remember that image of Captain François Pienaar and President Nelson Mandela? And that moment of national reconciliation with the oval rugby ball at its heart.

True to its promise of “World in Union”, the RWC is the only competition that allows “small” nations to take on the “big” guys. In this battle between David and Goliath, there have been some memorable moments. There was Japan’s classy win against South Africa in 2015 (34-32), after a match full of thrilling suspense. The winning try for the “Brave Blossoms” was scored in the 84th minute!

Memorable moments

Tries: the Rugby World Cup has seen lots of them. And some spectacular ones! French Flair: Serge Blanco’s unforgettable one in 1987 against the Australians, opening the way for the French team’s first appearance in a World Cup final. But also, Philippe Bernat-Salles’s try in 1999, who crushed the hopes of the whole New Zealand nation. Not to mention the try by Thierry Dusautoir, who acquired his nickname as the Dark Destroyer on a famous October evening in 2007 when the French tricolour flag stood proud and faced down the haka.

Beautiful stories are also what the Rugby World Cup is known for. Ask the Romanian international Florin Surugiu, who proposed marriage on the Wembley pitch after a defeat against Ireland in 2015!

Sporting heroes

The World Cup has been marked by the greatest rugby players in history: to name a few at random, iconic captains (Sean Fitzpatrick, John Eales, Richie McCaw), serial scorers (Bryan Habana, Drew Mitchell, Shane Williams), lethal kickers (Grant Fox, Gavin Hastings, Dan Carter, Sir Jonny Wilkinson)…. But if we had to choose just one player, it would have to be Jonah Lomu, the top try scorer in the history of the competition (15 tries), who, in the mid-nineties was in a completely different class, both in sporting and media terms.

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