The 10th edition of the Rugby World Cup is set to begin with a highly anticipated match between France and New Zealand at the Stade de France in Paris. This opening game will feature two of the best teams in the world and is expected to draw a sell-out crowd of 80,000. The tournament will consist of 48 games played at nine different venues across France, with the final also taking place at the Stade de France on October 28.
France was awarded the hosting rights for this year’s event in 2017, beating out bids from South Africa and Ireland. The country is currently in the sporting spotlight, as it will also be hosting the Olympic Games next year. Organizers are expecting 600,000 fans to travel to France for the tournament and have made a record 2.6 million tickets available.
Matches will be held at nine venues in different cities throughout France, including Bordeaux, Paris, and Marseille. The Stade de France will host the opening and final games, as well as several quarterfinals and semifinals. In the United States, the tournament is being broadcast on NBC, while other countries have their own broadcasters.
A total of 20 teams have qualified for this year’s Rugby World Cup, competing in four pools of five teams each. Many of the participating nations are established forces in the sport, such as Ireland, defending champion South Africa, and New Zealand. However, there are also teams like Fiji, Italy, and Japan that have been known to challenge the stronger teams. Some less experienced teams, like Chile making its World Cup debut, are not expected to advance beyond the pool stage.
The knockout stage of the tournament will consist of quarterfinals, semifinals, and a final. The top two teams from each pool will qualify for the quarterfinals, where they will play in a knockout format until a champion is determined. The previous nine Rugby World Cups have produced just four different winners – New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and England – but this year’s tournament is considered to be more open, with four teams having a good chance of winning.
South Africa, the defending champion, is in a strong position after convincing wins against Wales and New Zealand. France, as the host country, has the advantage of playing on home soil and has performed well in warm-up games against Australia, Fiji, and Scotland. Ireland, the top-ranked team in the world, is looking to overcome its history of disappointments in the World Cup. On the other side of the draw, there is a potential opportunity for teams like Australia, England, Argentina, or Wales to make it to the semifinals without facing one of the top-four teams.
In terms of individual players to watch, French scrum-half Antoine Dupont, New Zealand captain Sam Kane, South African winger Cheslin Kolbe, and Irish fly-half Johnny Sexton are expected to make a significant impact on the tournament. Overall, this year’s Rugby World Cup promises to be an exciting and closely contested event.