RUGBY JERSEY – September 9 England vs Argentina

Latin America: The Passion of the World

(Written by Azul: October 18,2023)

With the afterglow of the spectacular opening of the RWC 2023 in France the day before, we traveled from Toulouse to Marseille to watch England vs Argentina, the hot card of Group D. The distance was 319 km, so we took the train this time.

The photo above shows the Mataviot station in Toulouse, the gateway to the train.

We were a little happy to be on the famous French high-speed train, TGV, for the first time. However, the TGV does not run on a dedicated line like the Shinkansen in Japan, but on a conventional line, so it was not so fast. The maximum speed is said to be over 300 km/h, but the train we boarded was an older model, and it took 4 hours to travel 319 km, so the speed was on par with Japanese express trains.

Another difference from Japanese stations is that there were no ticket gates. We had obtained our tickets to Marseille in advance via the Internet, so there was a confirmation after we boarded the train. As Marseille neared, the sea came into view, and we were impressed by the view of the resort in the south of France, which we had longed for in the past.

At around 12:30, we arrived at Marseille, where the venue for today’s match, Stade de Marseille, is located.

Supporters from various countries were gathering at Saint-Charles station here in Marseille, as the RWC match was finally going to be held. Kick-off time is 21:00, so we decided to spend the time until the match starts by sightseeing in Marseille.

The Saint-Charles train station was opened in 1848 and has a history of more than 170 years. The history of Marseille is said to have begun with the opening of the port here around 600 B.C., making it a cosmopolitan city with a long history that predates the founding of France and even the Roman Empire.

Although it is now September, it is still summer. The temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius, and we were afraid of heat stroke if we stayed in the sun all day. So we walked toward the sea in the port city of Marseille.

Here in Marseille, not only the group league games but also the two final tournaments of RWC2023 will be held.

On the way to the port, we saw one of the tourist attractions of Marseille, the Arc de Triomphe (also known as the Aix Gate).

The Arc de Triomphe in Marseille was built in 1839, three years after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris was constructed.

Then, on a small hill overlooking the harbor, I saw Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, another tourist attraction in Marseille.

We arrived at the port of Marseille after a 15-minute walk from the station. As expected of an international port town, three large cruise ships were docked there.

Since we were so close to the sea, we decided to join the landing tour on If Island, which is a standard sightseeing tour in Marseille. The price was 6 euros, which was a good deal considering the content of the tour. We were able to board the boat right away at the right time, and the boat departed at 13:30.

Marseille is indeed a port city. There was a rich international atmosphere.

There were many people in line, but the cabins were empty. Many tourists seemed to be enjoying the cruise on the deck of the ship.

We arrived at If Island in less than 30 minutes after boarding the ship.

This island is a prison island that was once used to incarcerate many political prisoners and was depicted as the setting of the novel “Le Conte de Monte Cristo” by the great writer Dumas.

And the Castle of If, located here, is the prison.

Walking through the prison, I found various types of prisons. Those with serious crimes were chained in rooms with almost no windows, and as their crimes became less serious, the windows for lighting became larger and larger. I imagine that it was difficult to escape from the prison because it was almost an isolated island in the middle of the sea.

The photo above shows a window of a prison cell of a political prisoner who was probably convicted of a serious crime. This is the only window.

The former prison island is now a standard tourist attraction and is visited by many tourists every day.

There was also a restaurant and souvenir store on If Island. I bought a folding umbrella here as a souvenir.

After the island tour, I returned to Marseille.

Around 3:00 p.m., I walked around the port of Marseille and found the RWC2023 Fun Zone.

There were RWC2023 commemorative goods, snacks, and beer for sale.

We also had a late lunch here. Beer was 10 euros and a dish of fried potatoes and meat was 5 euros. There were many supporters of Argentina and England, who had matches on that day.

It was great to come to France, cruise in Marseille, have a nice meal, and watch the RWC 2023 match.

Then, around 4:00 p.m., we decided to go to the stadium anyway.

In Marseille, I saw many Argentine supporters. I felt excited about the match.

It took about 10 minutes from Saint-Charles station in Marseille to the stadium by subway.

There were many supporters gathered around the stadium waiting for the game to start. The number of supporters was about the same between England and Argentina, but I was overwhelmed by the passion of the Argentine supporters. They sang everywhere around the venue, and it was just like an Argentine carnival.

** Rugby goods I bought in France 4 **

This is a commemorative scarf I bought at the official RWC2023 store in front of the stadium. I am not sure if my memory is correct, but I think it cost 39 euros. It has the date of the match and the opposing country woven into it.

Finally, 90 minutes before kickoff, we were able to enter the stadium.

Stade de Marseille is the second largest stadium in the tournament with a capacity of 67,847. I bought my ticket on a resale site, and since I had no other choice, I bought a category 1 ticket, which cost 300 euros. Good seats indeed.

There was an English TV crew in front of our seats, talking with the English players.

Kick-off time was approaching. As of September 9, the day of the match, the England team was ranked 8th in the world. The Argentine national team was ranked 6th in the world, and the pre-match prediction on sports TV was in favor of Argentina. In the most recent test match, Argentina beat England by a narrow margin. In addition, England captain Farrell was suspended for the big match after being shown a red card for a foul in the match before the RWC 2023 began.

This is a very tough situation for the England team.

The following is the starting member of England.

1Ellice Genge186cm120kg2853
2Jamie GEORGE181cm108kg3278
3Dan COLE188cm123kg36103
4Maro ITOJE195cm115kg2868
5Ollie CHESSUM200cm118kg2316
6Courtney LAWES201cm115kg28101
7Tom CURRY185cm110kg2546
8Ben EARL186cm102kg2523
9Alex MITCHELL180cm80kg268
10George FORD178cm84kg3085
11Elliot DALY179cm83kg3060
12Manu TUILAGI179cm83kg3254
13Joe MARCHANT183cm89kg2716
14Jonny MAY187cm90kg3373
15Freddie STEWARD196cm107kg2219

The two countries also met in RWC 2019, with England winning outright. Will Argentina be humiliated?

Argentina will be looking for revenge after being eliminated from the qualifying pool in the last tournament.

The following is the starting member of Argentina.

1Thomas Gallo176cm105kg2418
2Julián Montoya183cm113kg3164
3Francisco Gomez Kodela184cm121kg3832
4Matias Alemanno198cm113kg3166
5Tomas Lavanini201cm130kg3057
6Pablo Matera193cm98kg3096
7Marcos Kremer195cm114kg2633
8Juan Martin Gonzalez191m101kg2225
9Gonzalo Bertranou174m72kg2951
10Santiago Carreras183cm88kg2513
11Mateo Carreras173cm84kg2311
12Santiago Chocobares188cm95kg2415
13Lucio Cinti190cm90kg231
14Emiliano Boffelli192cm94kg2841
15Juan Cruz Mallia182cm88kg2715

The game kicked off at 21:00.

3 minutes into the first half, England flanker CURRY was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle and was sent off. This meant that England was outnumbered for most of the match. Argentina’s supporters suddenly became very enthusiastic and started cheering loudly. At this point, the situation was the exact opposite of the previous tournament, and I predicted a big win for Argentina.

The England standoff for this match was George Ford. This player, who was mainly a reserve under the previous coach, was chosen to be England’s leader under the new coach. When he saw that Argentina’s defense was strong, he switched to a tactic of kicking instead of aiming for tries, and scored one PG and three DGs in a row in the first half, pulling the game into England’s favor at once.

Ford’s 3 DGs in the first half were a god-like performance that will go down in the history of the World Cup. I had never seen such a game before.

PG success in the first 10 minutes.

Successful DGs in the 27th, 31st, and 37th minutes of the first half. One of them was scored from near the halfway point of the ground, and I wondered if Ford, and England, had a goddess of victory on their side.

The England supporters could no longer stop screaming. Until the first 10 minutes of the first half, the venue was a place of celebration for Argentine supporters, but England’s SO Ford’s performance silenced them.

The first half ended with England leading by a score of 12-3. As expected, DGs have a great talent. It is a very difficult move, and the crowd cheered loudly when it was executed.

In the second half, Argentina took advantage of having one more player, and could they make a comeback?

The second half began, but Argentina fell prey to England’s tactics and repeatedly committed infractions in enemy territory. PGs in the 6th, 14th, 19th, 26th, and 35th minutes of the second half finally made the score 27-3, and the game was deadlocked.

The English supporters, who had looked like bitches at the start of the match, looked back at the Argentine supporters and said, “Look at us, we’ve won the game!

The hero of the day, England’s SO George. Ford. It was a godlike performance.

In the end, Argentina showed their determination by scoring one try at the end of the match, but it was no more than a stone’s throw. Before the end of the match, many Argentine supporters left their seats and went home.

England supporters were happy to see the match end. This match was said to be the biggest climax of Pool D, so England got a step ahead to advance to the final tournament.

When the game ended at 23:00, we rushed back to Saint-Charles station. It was very difficult to get on the train because more than 60,000 spectators were concentrated at the metro station. We had originally planned to stay overnight in Marseille after the match, but we had to give up the plan because the hotel price in Marseille had risen to seven times the price of the original plan. Therefore, we decided to take a late night bus back to Toulouse.

The price was 670 euros per night if we stayed in Marseille, but it was only 60 euros per night if we took the midnight bus.

After returning to the hotel, I had a good night’s sleep, and finally I was going to watch a game of the Japanese national team.

**Rugby goods I bought in France 5 **

I bought this T-shirt at the department store in front of the stadium in Marseille. It was 35 euros. It is not an official product of RWC2023, but I liked the design, so I bought it.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


RUGBY JERSEY – September 8, RWC 2023 begins

(Written by AZUL: September 29, 2023)

September 8, our second day in France, marked the opening day of RWC2023. We stayed in France from September 7 to 11, and would have loved to watch the opening match on September 8 (France vs. New Zealand) if we could get tickets in advance. However, they were not on sale on the ticket resale website. It is no wonder, since this is a very popular and favorable card along with the final and semi-final matches. However, I thought that Toulouse, one of the host cities of RWC 2023, should at least have a public viewing event, so I asked at a fan zone in the city, and was told that it would be held on this night.

The staff advised us to arrive two hours before kickoff.

The photo above shows the SERGE BLANCO store in Toulouse, where the French heroes of RWC 1987 now have their own fashion brand.

Before watching the opening match this evening, we went to visit Carcassonne, a World Heritage Site located near Toulouse. The tour leaves at 9:30 AM and returns at 5:30 PM.

We boarded the Carcassonne tour bus on a wide street about a 5-minute walk from our hotel. The trip to Carcassonne took about 2 hours. The price of this tour varied from about 60 euros for the round-trip bus fare and entrance ticket, which we used, to a more expensive 500 euros for a tour of Carcassonne with a personal guide. Personally, I was satisfied with the €60 tour.

In the morning, we arrived at our destination.

Oh, the old castle of Carcassonne came into view. Carcassonne, a World Heritage Site, is one of the largest fortresses in Europe, and the first fortification was built in the 3rd century BC.

The site where this fortress was built has long been a strategic point for transportation between the Iberian Peninsula and European countries, and in the Middle Ages, it served as a base for the crusades sent by the Pope.

After the border with Spain shifted to the west in the 17th century and the site lost its significance as a fortress, it declined and was abandoned in the 19th century.

However, the historical value of the site was later recognized and it was restored to its present form.

It is said to be the No. 2 most popular World Heritage site in France, following Mont Saint-Michel. The town surrounding the fortress also retains its medieval atmosphere, and it was a wonderful sight to see such a thing for a tour price of 60 euros.

The walls of this Carcassonne fortress are 3 km long and even double in length.

There are 52 towers within the fortress, and although we were not able to see all of them, we were amazed at the majesty of the towers even inside the fortress.

Before coming here, I thought I would have too much time on my hands, as I was told that the bus would leave at 11:30 a.m. at the bus stop by the fort and that the return bus would meet at 3:30 p.m. However, if I wanted to see every nook and cranny of this fort, from the outer to the inner walls, I would be a little short on time.

This building is the Basilique St-Nazaire, located inside the ramparts. The interior is a magnificent, faithfully reconstructed medieval site.

Since we had to have lunch and buy souvenirs in the four hours allotted to us, we gave up trying to go around the entire perimeter. If you really want to enjoy this facility to the fullest, you may stay overnight at the hotel inside the facility.

At almost 1:00 p.m., we finally finished visiting the tower, so we went to the restaurant inside the facility to have a meal. I ordered the following

*Caesar salad

*Cheese platter

*Cassoulet (a local dish of Occitanie)

*Red wine

The photo above is the cheese platter. I forgot to take a picture of the cassoulet. The cassoulet was indeed delicious, but the quantity was so large that I was the only one who finished it in my group.

(The basic ingredients are white beans, pork, duck, and sausage. It is very tasty, as long as you don’t make a mistake with the quantity. Many of the tourists around us also ordered cassoulet.

It is often said about famous tourist attractions that “don’t die without seeing Carcassonne”.

*Souvenirs I bought in France 1*

This is a scarf and clasp I bought at a store in Carcassonne. I bought the one with the Crusader emblem on the right for 49 euros.

** Rugby goods I bought in France, part 3 **

I bought these rugby goods at a store in Carcassonne. I fell in love with the design at first sight and bought it. The brand name “RUCK FIELD” is a French brand. Sebastian CHABAL on the box is a player who played as a lock for France in RWC 2007. He is said to have broken a player of the opposing team’s arm with a single shot by making a tremendous tackle. The price was reasonable at 60 euros, but the watch is water resistant to 10 atmospheres, tough and will last for a long time.

After ending our tour of Carcassonne on time, we returned to Toulouse. We were 15 minutes past the scheduled time, but since we had checked the venue for the public viewing the day before, we arrived one hour before kickoff.

The venue was a special site set up in the vicinity of Pont Neuf, a famous tourist attraction. The photo shows the Garonne River, which flows through the city. By the time we arrived, there were quite a few spectators. To our surprise, the security check was so strict that all the beverages we brought in our backpacks had to be disposed of on the spot. This check was conducted by police officers, not volunteer staff, and their faces were frightening. When we arrived, there were about 10,000 people in the area.

We set up in this area. At this point (around 18:00), it was still empty, but by the end of the day, over 40,000 spectators had gathered. The French people’s expectations for their first RWC victory were evident.

Before the games began, everyone was talking peacefully among friends. Things gradually heated up around the time of the opening ceremony.

Many people gathered, and remembering the crushing deaths that occurred in Korea, I felt in danger, so we moved from the center part of the event to the side of the river.

I was surprised by the speech of the guest of honor at the opening ceremony. When President Macron started to speak, there was a loud booing at the stadium in Paris and at the venue here. In a sense, it can be said that the public has a strong interest in their domestic politics.

The opening match of this tournament is France vs. New Zealand, a strong team that has played in several finals in the past.

Past opening card results, as researched, are as follows

RWC 1987: NZ vs Italy ~70-6

RWC1991: England vs NZ ~ 12-18

RWC1995: South Africa vs Australia ~ 27-18

RWC1999: Wales vs Argentina ~ 23-18

RWC2003: Australia vs Argentina~ 24-8

RWC2007: France vs Argentina~ 12-17

RWC2011: NZ vs Tonga~ 41-10

RWC2015: England vs Fiji ~ 35-11

RWC2019: Japan vs Russia – 30-10

(In the matchup combinations in the data above, the left side indicates the host nation.)

The opening match of RWC2023 will be between the top-ranked nations in the world ranking, and the French nation will be on a high from September 8.

The starting members lineup for the opening match is as follows.

First, the All Blacks, representing New Zealand in the Visitor Team.

All Blacks
No.NameheightweightageNZ Caps
1Ethan de GROOT190cm122kg2517
2Codie TAYLOR183cm108kg3280
3Nepo LAULALA184cm116kg3150
4Samuel WHITELOCK202cm117kg34146
5Scott BARRETT197cm112kg2962
6Tupou VA’AI198cm118kg2322
7Dalton PAPAL’I193cm113kg2526
8Ardie SAVEA190m99kg2975
9Aaron SMITH171m83kg34119
10Richie MO’UNGA176cm83kg2949
11Mark TELEA186cm94kg265
12Anton LIENERT-BROWN185cm96kg2863
13Rieko IOANE189cm103kg2663
14Will JORDAN188cm94kg2525
15Beauden BARRETT187cm91kg32116

The All Blacks have never lost a qualifying pool match in the RWC, and are coming into RWC 2023 on a high condition after winning the Southern Hemisphere RWC just prior to the RWC.

The image above is a reflection of the front screen from where we were sitting. At this point, the crowd was still small and we were able to sit and watch the game.

The starting lineup for the French national team, Les Bleus, who will be the home team for the opening match, is as follows.

No.NameheightweightageFrance Caps
1Reda Wardi185cm110kg2410
2Julien MARCHAND181cm110kg2832
3Uini ATONIO196cm145kg3354
4Cameron WOKI196cm109kg2423
5Thibaud FLAMENT203cm116kg2620
6Francois CROS190cm111kg2935
7Charles OLLIVON199cm114kg3023
8Gregory ALDRITT191m113kg2643
9Antoine DUPONT174m85kg2650
10 Matthieu JALIBERT184cm84kg2826
11Gaban VILIERE180cm88kg2715
12 Yoram MOEFANA182cm97kg2319
13Gael FICKOU190cm100kg2982
14Damian PENAUD189cm96kg2645
15Thomas RAMOS178cm87kg2828

Can the French Rugby team, the host nation of RWC 2023, break the All Blacks’ undefeated record in the qualifying pool?

The pre-match predictions were slightly in favor of the All Blacks. However, the expectations of the home country for the French national team this time around are high. In the previous RWC 2019, the French national team received dismal reviews. Many media outlets in the home country were said to have not booked hotels for coverage during the final tournament, assuming that the French national team would be eliminated in the qualifying pool. The team then went on to strengthen for the RWC 2023 to be held in their hometown, and was ranked No. 4 in the world.

If you compare the two photos above, you can see that the crowd was growing quickly at the venue in Toulouse.

Then, the match started.

First half:

It was All Blacks who scored the first goal. In 2 minute of the first half, a kick pass from FB BARRETT was held by young WTB TELEA, and he scored a try easily. On the other hand, Les Bleus also drew a foul on All Blacks in enemy territory, and FB RAMOS scored PGs in the 5th, 20th, and 29th minutes of the first half, giving Les Bleus a one-point lead, 9-8.

At the end of the first half, it was completely nighttime. The Public Viewing venue in Toulouse was already so packed that it was impossible to watch the game without standing. At this point, no new visitors were allowed to enter.

The second half began.

Second Half:

3 minutes into the second half, the All Blacks scored another try. The try was scored by WTB TELEA, who also scored the first try in the first half.

Les Blues scored in small increments, but it was not until the 33rd minute of the second half that Les Blue

3 minutes into the second half, the All Blacks scored another try. The try was scored by WTB TELEA, who also scored the first try in the first half.

The game was a tense affair with Les Blues leading by 6 points until the 33rd minute of the second half, when Les Blues scored two more tries. For the French people, this was a great way to end the opening match of the RWC 2023.

After the opening match, if both teams win all their subsequent matches, they will play each other again in the final. Which team will advance to the finals? The final will be held on October 28.


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine