France rugby showpiece to steal breath away


Rugby World Cup 2023 stadiums announced Image: Rugby World Cup 2023

Rugby fiends waiting with bated breath for the Rugby World Cup 2023 match schedule are an exulted lot. World Rugby and the France 2023 Organising Committee have announced the much-anticipated match schedule for Rugby World Cup 2023, a tournament with players and fans at heart that will have the whole of France engaged and moving.

The Rugby World Cup 2023 website informed that the expanded eight-week festival could not get off to a bigger start with hosts France and three-time champions New Zealand meeting in the opening matchup on September 8th, 2023, to kick-off the sport’s 200th birthday celebrations in style and great élan.

The 2023 Rugby World Cup, to be hosted by France, is scheduled to be the 10th 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 sporting showpiece will take place from September 8th to October 28th, 2023. The final will take place at the 80,698-capacity national stadium of France – Stade de France – in Paris.

Dublin (Ireland)-headquartered World Rugby is the world governing body for the sport of rugby union. World Rugby organizes the Rugby World Cup every four years, the sport’s most recognized and most profitable competition.

Unifying force

Rugby World Cup 2023 will be a nationwide tournament involving the whole of France in the true sense of the term. Each host City will stage a minimum of four games and welcome at least one Rugby World Cup 2019 quarter-finalist, reinforcing its commitment to unite the whole country through rugby fever.

The Rugby World Cup 2023 website further informed that in tune with the mission to make the tournament the most accessible Rugby World Cup to date and attract new audiences in France, 80 percent of the population will live within two hours from a match venue, while the host nation will put its best foot forward for international fans.

With the draw delivering the prospect of adrenaline rush matches, an extended pool phase will ensure the very best experience for teams and fans alike with the big matches concentrated across Wednesday to Sunday, while for the first time Mondays and Tuesdays will be clear, enabling teams and fans to catch their breath and reflect on the action and the whole spectacle promises to be an edge-of-the-seat moment.

One highlight of a spectacular opening weekend is a double-header in Marseille (France), a fan-favorite at the 2007 fixture. Rugby World Cup 2019 runners-up England will launch their Pool D campaign against Argentina on the first Saturday, while reigning champions South Africa will start their title defence against Scotland the following day, offering fans two top-notch fixtures in one location over an epic late September weekend in the South of France.

Epic moments

A streamlined nine host cities will play host to the world’s cream of the crop 20 teams with the top two from each pool progressing to the quarter-finals. In typical style, the pool phase concludes with an epic weekend of matches with Six Nations rivals Scotland and Ireland clashing in Saint-Denis and fans’ apple of eye Japan facing Argentina in Nantes (France).

The Six Nations Championship is an annual international men’s rugby union competition between the teams of England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales. The current champions are England, who won the 2020 tournament.

The 67,394-capacity Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, France and Stade de France in Saint-Denis (France) will stage the quarter-finals on October 14th-15th. The 80,000-capacity national symbol of France – Stade de France – will also host the two semi-finals on October 20th and October 21st, the bronze final on October 27th and will set the stage for the Rugby World Cup 2023 champions to be crowned on October 28th.

Kick-off times for all 48 fixtures will be confirmed in due course.

Fans-first mantra

The innovative match schedule developed by World Rugby and the France 2023 Organising Committee, in collaboration with International Rugby Players (the global representative body on issues of importance to professional rugby players), host cities and broadcasters, have accorded top priority to team and fans’ experience. For the first time in the tournament’s history, all teams will have a minimum of five rest days between all matches and an increased squad size of 33 players, optimizing recovery and preparation and improving on-field performances.

All fixtures will be held between Wednesday and Sunday to facilitate maximum fan attendance and broadcast engagement and seven double-header weekends will translate into a carnival atmosphere in the host cities. Building on a record economic impact of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan which sent the cash registers jingling, France 2023 will look to be the most impactful and sustainable Rugby World Cup ever, delivering a tangible impact for society and rugby.

Remarked World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont, “The match schedule announcement is the moment when the tournament truly comes alive for fans all around the world and is an exciting milestone on the road to Rugby World Cup France 2023. It has been developed with teams and fans at heart and we are confident it will provide the best possible platform for a thrilling, historic and very special Rugby World Cup in the sport’s 200th year. I would like to thank our friends at the France 2023 Organising Committee for their efforts in building the most fair and equitable RWC match schedule ever. I know I speak for fans around the world when I say that 2023 cannot come fast enough!”

Added World Rugby Vice-Chairman Bernard Laporte, “The match schedule announcement is a wonderful moment for all Rugby World Cup 2023’s stakeholders. It has everything: The world’s 20 best teams, 48 games and 51 days of celebrations. Designed with players and fans at heart, this match schedule will delight all rugby lovers around the world. We have given each host City the opportunity to shine with thrilling fixtures happening all over France. We look forward to 2023!”

France 2023 CEO Claude Atcher put in, “The France 2023 Organising Committee is very proud of the match schedule presented with World Rugby. An increase in financial investment for the purpose of better player welfare is unprecedented in the history of major sporting events. This new match schedule format will also provide a more equitable platform for all teams involved. We are also very pleased that each of our nine host cities and regions will host at least one quarter-finalist from Rugby World Cup 2019, meaning the tournament, and all it has to offer, will be accessible to the widest-possible audience across the country. With this in mind, we believe this match schedule can deliver the most competitive and entertaining Rugby World Cup ever held.”

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