Here’s a quick introduction to the Rugby World Cup in France 2023. Nine cities are involved: Paris, Lille, Saint-Etienne, Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nice and Toulouse. You may want to be there to witness the excitement. However you may want to avoid the participating cities on those dates!

2023 rugby World cup qualifier USA vs Uruguay with team in white standing backs to camera and team in blue attacking
2023 Rugby World Cup Qualifier: USA vs Uruguay © 江戸村のとくぞう/CC/BY/SA 4.0

The Rugby World Cup in France is the tenth men’s cup. The competition began in 1987 and takes place every fourth year. This autumn it’s from September 8 to October 28 2023 in nine stadiums across the country. It’s the first Rugby World Cup to take place entirely in France. Previously France was joint host with England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Defending the Rugby World Cup is South Africa who defeated England 32 to 12 in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final in Japan. Four nations have won the cup: New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and England.

2019 opening ceremony rugby world cup in tokyo with darkened stadium and all lights on main pitch with coloured teams and movement
2019 Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony © 江戸村のとくぞう/CC/BY/SA 4.0

Rugby World Cup Pools

The 20 national teams are put into pools of four. Each team plays the other three teams in their pool. The two top teams in each of the pools, with the two best-third-placed teams, qualify for the quarter finals.

Pool A: New Zealand, France, Italy, Uruguay, Namibia

Pool B: South Africa; Ireland; Scotland; Tonga; Romania

Pool C: Wales; Australia; Fiji; Georgia; Portugal

Pool D: England; Japan; Argentina; Samoa; Chile

Please Note: Dates for matches in the different stadiums are listed by pool, so dates for Pool A come before the other pools; dates for Pool B, and Pool C are similar.

The Stadiums and Cities for the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France

Paris: Stade de France

Stade de France stadium in Paris with pitch and two teams holding flags of France and Germany and fans in stands all around pitch
Stade de France © Zakarie Fabais/CC/BY/SA 4.0

The Stade de France in Paris is the country’s national stadium holding more than 80,000 spectators. It will host more games than any other of the venues. It hosts the opening match between France and New Zealand, many of the pool-stage games, two quarter-finals, both semi-finals, the bonze final and of course, the final. It was built for the 1988 FIFA World Cup final.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Games in Paris

Sat Sept 9: France vs New Zealand
Sun Sept 10: South Africa vs Ireland; Australia vs Georgia
Sun Oct 8: Ireland vs Scotland
Sat Oct 14: Winner Pool B vs Runner-up Pool A
Sun Oct 15: Winner Pool A vs Runner-up Pool B
Fri Oct 20: Winner Quarter-final 1 vs Winner Quarter-final 2
Sat Oct 21: Winner Quarter-final 3 vs Winner Quarter-final 4
Fri Oct 27: Runner-up Semi-final 1 vs Runner-up Semi-final 2
Sat Oct 28: Final between the Winner Semi-final 1 vs Winner Semi-final 2

Marseille: Stade Orange Vélodrome de Marseille

Marseille stadium fron aerial view showing huge white undulating roof over pitch with buildings all around
Marseille Stadium © Challenge Puteaux/CC/BY/SA 4.0

This is one of the oldest stadiums in France, opening in 1937 and hosting the FIFA World Cup in 1938. It’s also one of the largest in France with a capacity of 70,000. It has been renovated several times and is now one of the best in the world. It’s home to the Olympique de Marseille football team and is used by Toulon rugby team.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Games in Marseille

Sat Sep 9: England vs Argentina
Sun Sep 10: South Africa vs Scotland
Thurs Sep 21: France vs Namibia
Sun Oct 1: South Africa vs Tonga
Sat Oct 14: Winner Pool C vs Runner-up Pool D
Sun Oct 15: Winner Pool D vs Runner-up Pool C

Lyon: Groupama OL Stadium

Lyon OL stadium on sunny day with huge stadium and fans in seats, pitch and partial roof covering
Lyon OL Stadium

The 60,000 seater stadium is home to French football club Olympique Lyonnais. It opened in January 1916 and has hosted major football and rugby events.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Games in Lyon

Mon Sept 25: Wales vs Australia
Thurs Sept 28: Uruguay vs Namibia
Sat Sept 30: New Zealand vs Italy
Fri Oct 6: New Zealand vs Uruguay
Sat Oct 7: France vs Italy

Lille: Stade Pierre-Mauroy

Lille Stadium with light sky, officials in front, green pitch in middle with players and stands behind
Lille Stadium © Liond’artois/CC/BY/SA 4.0

Holding over 50,000 spectators the Lille stadium was built in 2012 and is technically unique. It has a retractable roof, solar panels and two windmills for the electricity supply Half of the field has hydraulics that can move it to sit above the other half. So on the second lower level there’s a space for basketball, tennis and music shows.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Games in Lille

Fri Sep 15: France vs Uruguay
Sun Oct 1: Scotland vs Romania
Mon Oct 9: Tonga vs Romania
Sun Sept 24: England vs Chile
Sun Oct 8: England vs Samoa

Bordeaux: Matmut Atlantique Stade de Bordeaux

Bordeaux Stadium showing to left fans in stand with stand behind and Liverpool caps and players on pitch
Bordeaux Stadium with Liverpool & Bordeaux © Fantafluflu/CC/BY/SA 4.0

Opened in 1915, and seating 42,000 the Matmut Atlantique Stade de Bordeaux is used for major national and international matches. Along with Paris, Nantes, Nice and Saint-Etienne the Stade de Bordeaux Bordeaux will host football matches at the 2024 Summer Olympics.  

Sun Sept 10: Ireland vs Romania
Mon Sept 18: South Africa vs Romania
Mon Sept 11: Wales vs Fiji
Sun Oct 1: Fiji vs Georgia

Saint-Etienne: Stade Geoffroy-Guichard

Saint-Etienne football stadium from one end with players on pitch and stands full of fans
Saint-Etienne Stadium © KEVFB/CC/BY/SA 4.0

AS Saint-Etienne, one of France’s foremost football teams plays here, giving the nickname le Chaurdron (the Caludron) or l’enfer vert (the Green Hell) after the colours it wears. It was built in 1930 and has been renovated several times, playing host to major national and international tournaments.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Games in Saint-Etienne

Sat Sept 9: Italy vs Namibia
Mon Sept 18: Australia vs Fiji
Mon Oct 2: Australia vs Portugal
Sat Sept 23: Argentina vs Samoa

Nice: Stade Allianz Riviera de Nice

Nice Allianz stadium showing far corner with stands full of fans, players on green pitch and sun on partly covering roof
Nice Allianz Stadium © Mirasol/CC/BY/SA 4.0

Home to OGC Nice regularly used by Toulon, the Stade de Nice was opened in 2013. It seats 35,000. It has hosted national and international major football matches, as well as being a major music venue, but this is the first time it’s been used for a major rugby tournament.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Games in Nice

Thurs Sep 21: Italy vs Uruguay
Mon Sept 25: Scotland vs Tonga
Sun Sept 17: Wales vs Portugal
Mon Sept 18: England vs Japan

Nantes: Stade de la Beaujoire

Nantes Stadium on sunny day with half pitch in sum and half in shade from stand. Green pitch and stands full of fans in background
Nantes Stadium © Chabe/CC/BY/SA 4.0

Home to FC Nantes and hosting important rugby matches, it seats over 38,000 spectators. It opened in 1984 for a friendly between France and Romania.  

Rugby World Cup 2023 Games in Nantes

Sun Sept 17: Ireland vs Tonga
Sun Oct 8: Wales vs Georgia
Sun Oct 1: Argentina vs Chile
Mon Oct 9: Japan vs Argentina

Toulouse: Stadium de Toulouse

Toulouse football stadium in daylight with fans in front and players on pitch in middle, more stands, fans and huge lights in background
Toulouse Stadium © Gaillac/CC/BY/SA 4.0

One of the stadiums built for the 1938 FIFA World Cup, and one of the oldest major stadiums in France. It’s used by the local and the French national football teams. Renovated three times, it was the site of one of the French rugby team’s most notable wins. Les Bleus, as they are known, won against Namibia 87-10 in 2007.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Games in Toulouse

Sun Sept 24: Georgia vs Portugal
Mon Oct 9: Fiji vs Portugal
Sun Sep 10: Japan vs Chile
Fri Sept 29: Japan vs Samoa

The Webb Ellis Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup in silver gilt. Large ornate cup with two handles, top and base to stand on and inscribed Webb Ellis Cup
The Webb Ellis Rugby World Cup

The Webb Ellis Cup is named after William Webb Ellis, the rugby school pupil who apparently invented the game in 1823. He showed ‘a fine disregard for the rules’ by catching the ball and running with it and the game was born.

The cup was made in 1906 by Garrard & Co. based on a design of 1736 by Paul de Lamarie. The London-based French Hugenot silversmith was world famous. He was referred to as the ‘King’s silversmith’ in 1717 and the Victoria & Albert Museum calls him the ‘greatest silversmith working in England in the 18th century’. You can see the original cup he designed in the museum.

Trivial Information: The highest scoring team in the Rugby World Cup was New Zealand who in 1995 beat Japan by 145-17 in South Africa. A long time ago, Japan today has a top rugby team.

More Information

Check out the official Rugby World Cup Site here.

Check out the other great French sporting event – The Tour de France 2023

Guide to Paris

Events in France in September
Events in France in October