Hosts France are adamant they will not be fazed by the magnitude of playing the World Cup curtain raiser on Friday against New Zealand.
“Playing a World Cup is a dream we’ve all had since we were kids, and starting against the All Blacks is a super exciting challenge. We can’t wait for it,” lock Thibaud Flament said.
“We’re expecting a lot of energy from the crowd, the atmosphere will be electric.
“Everyone has been waiting for it. It will be a big battle, it’s the moment everyone will release all the energy they have accumulated.
“So no pressure, really. It’s a big challenge but we’re well prepared. We know the Stade de France, its atmosphere, and we played the All Blacks not so long ago.”
Les Bleus, who have rediscovered their touch since Fabien Galthie took over following a mediocre 2019 World Cup, beat New Zealand for the first time since 2009 in an impressive 40-25 win at the Stade de France two years ago.
England, meanwhile, go into the tournament under a cloud given that they have won only three times in nine Tests under Steve Borthwick. Their critical Pool D opener against Argentina is looming.
England do at least have a kind draw for the tournament. If they escape their pool (also containing Japan, Samoa and Chile) they could face Wales, Australia or Fiji in the quarter-final.
When is the Rugby World Cup?
The tournament begins on Friday, September 8 with France taking on New Zealand. The final will be played on Saturday, October 28.
South Africa were the winners of the last tournament – in Japan in 2019 – when they beat England in the final, and will be among the favourites again this year, particularly after hammering New Zealand at Twickenham in their final warm-up match.
A strong European challenge is expected, not least from France, who smashed Australia in a pre-tournament warm-up, and Six Nations Grand Slam winners Ireland, who have yet to put their best foot forward at a World Cup but thrashed England in a warm-up match.
Where is it?
The 2023 Rugby World Cup will be played in France across nine stadiums in nine cities. The final will be played at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis (Paris).
Stade de France (capacity 80,698) – Saint-Denis, Paris
Stade de Marseille (67,394) – Marseille
OL Stadium (59,186) – Lyon
Stade Pierre-Mauroy (50,186) – Lille
Stade de Bordeaux (42,115) – Bordeaux
Stade Geoffroy-Guichard (41,965) – Saint-Étienne
Stade de Nice (35,624) – Nice
Stade de la Beaujoire (35,322) – Nantes
Stade de Toulouse (33,150) – Toulouse
How do I watch the Rugby World Cup?
ITV have the exclusive broadcast rights in the UK. The channel for each match is listed below (the vast majority are on ITV1). You can read our guide to the 12 best pundits and commentators working at the tournament.
The radio commentary of every match will be available only on the BBC, across Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra and the BBC Sounds service. The BBC says there will be a “bespoke output” in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In the US, the tournament is being shown on NBC Sports. In South Africa the TV coverage is on SuperSport.
Who is playing?
A total of 20 teams qualified for the Rugby World Cup. These teams were split into four pools of five, with each pool getting one team from five ‘bands’.
Band one featured the four highest-ranked teams from when the draw for the tournament was made back in 2019 (South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales). Band two comprised the next four highest-ranked teams (Ireland, Australia, France, Japan) and band three the four after that (Scotland, Argentina, Fiji, Italy).
Each side in the first three bands qualified automatically for the tournament owing to their world ranking, while the further two bands comprised the sides who had made it into the tournament via qualifying (Samoa, Georgia, Uruguay, Tonga, Namibia, Romania, Chile, Portugal).
Who is in what pool?
Rugby World Cup 2023 full fixtures and schedule
All matches on ITV1 unless specified
Friday, Sept 8 – France v New Zealand, Stade de France, 8.15pm (BST)
Saturday, Sept 9 – Italy v Namibia, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, 12.00pm
Saturday, Sept 9 – Ireland v Romania, Stade de Bordeaux, 2.30pm
Saturday, Sept 9 – Australia v Georgia, Stade de France, 5pm
Saturday, Sept 9 – England v Argentina, Stade de Marseille, 8pm
Sunday, Sept 10 – Japan v Chile, Stade de Toulouse, 12pm
Sunday, Sept 10 – South Africa v Scotland, Stade de Marseille, 4.45pm
Sunday, Sept 10 – Wales v Fiji, Stade de Bordeaux, 8pm
Thursday, Sept 14 – France v Uruguay, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, 8pm
Friday, Sept 15 – New Zealand v Namibia, Stadium de Toulouse, 8pm
Saturday, Sept 16 – Samoa v Chile, Stade de Bordeaux, 2pm – ITV 4
Saturday, Sept 16 – Wales v Portugal, Stade de Nice 4.45pm
Saturday, Sept 16 – Ireland v Tonga, Stade de la Beaujoire, 8pm
Sunday, Sept 17 – South Africa v Romania, Stade de Bordeaux, 2pm
Sunday, Sept 17 – Australia v Fiji, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, 4.45pm
Sunday, Sept 17 – England v Japan, Stade de Nice, 8pm
Wednesday, Sept 20 – Italy v Uruguay, Stade de Nice, 4.45pm – ITV 4
Thursday, Sept 21 – France v Namibia, Stade de Marseille, 8pm – ITV 4
Friday, Sept 22 – Argentina v Samoa, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, 4.45pm
Saturday, Sept 23 – Georgia v Portugal, Stadium de Toulouse, 1pm
Saturday, Sept 23 – England v Chile, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, 4.45pm
Saturday, Sept 23 – South Africa v Ireland, Stade de France, 8pm
Sunday, Sept 24 – Scotland v Tonga, Stade de Nice, 4.45pm
Sunday, Sept 24 – Wales v Australia, OL Stadium, 8pm
Wednesday, Sept 27 – Uruguay v Namibia, OL Stadium, 4.45pm – ITV 4
Thursday, Sept 28 – Japan v Samoa, Stade de Toulouse, 8pm – ITV 4
Friday, Sept 29 – New Zealand v Italy, OL Stadium, 8pm
Saturday, Sept 30 – Argentina v Chile, Stade de la Beaujoire, 2pm
Saturday, Sept 30 – Fiji v Georgia, Stade de Bordeaux, 4.45pm
Saturday, Sept 30 – Scotland v Romania, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, 8pm
Sunday, Oct 1 – Australia v Portugal, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, 4.45pm – ITV 4
Sunday, Oct 1 – South Africa v Tonga, Stade de Marseille, 8pm
Thursday, Oct 5 – New Zealand v Uruguay, OL Stadium, 8pm – ITV 4
Friday, Oct 6 – France v Italy, OL Stadium, 8pm
Saturday, Oct 7 – Wales v Georgia, Stade de la Beaujoire, 2pm
Saturday, Oct 7 – England v Samoa, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, 4.45pm
Saturday, Oct 7 – Ireland v Scotland, Stade de France, 8pm
Sunday, Oct 8 – Japan v Argentina, Stade de la Beaujoire, 12pm
Sunday, Oct 8 – Tonga v Romania, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, 4.45pm – ITV 3
Sunday, Oct 8 – Fiji v Portugal, Stade de Toulouse, 8pm – ITV 4
Saturday, Oct 14 – Winner Pool C v Runner-up Pool D, Stade de Marseille, 4pm
Saturday, Oct 14 – Winner Pool B v Runner-up Pool A, Stade de France, 8pm
Sunday, Oct 15 – Winner Pool D v Runner-up Pool C, Stade de Marseille, 4pm
Sunday, Oct 15 – Winner Pool 4 v Runner-up Pool B, Stade de France, 8pm
Friday, Oct 20 – Winner QF 1 v Winner QF 2, Stade de France, 8pm
Saturday, Oct 21 – Winner QF 3 v Winner QF 4, Stade de France, 8pm
Friday, Oct 27 – Runner-up SF 1 v Runner-up SF 2, Stade de France, 8pm
England’s World Cup squad
England’s squad selection for the Rugby World Cup was severely disrupted by injuries and suspensions. Steve Borthwick named his 33-man squad on August 7. But after that date:
You can read Will Greenwood’s verdict on the men who have been selected.
Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)***
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks)*
Theo Dan (Saracens)
Ben Earl (Saracens)
Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears)*
Jamie George (Saracens)**
Maro Itoje (Saracens)*
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)***
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints)*
Joe Marler (Harlequins)**
George Martin (Leicester Tigers)
David Ribbans (Toulon)
Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks)
Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears)*
Will Stuart (Bath Rugby)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens) **
Jack Walker (Harlequins)
Jack Willis (Toulouse)
Henry Arundell (Racing 92)
Danny Care (Harlequins)*
Elliot Daly (Saracens)*
Owen Farrell (Saracens)**
George Ford (Sale Sharks)**
Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby)
Max Malins (Bristol Bears)
Joe Marchant (Stade Francais)
Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints) – replaced by Jack van Poortvliet
Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers)
Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks)**
Anthony Watson (unattached)** – replaced by Jonny May
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)***
*denotes number of Rugby World Cup tournaments played
New Zealand: 5/2
South Africa: 10/3
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