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


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *