Preparations to host Rugby World Cup 2023 are well underway in 10 cities across France.
The RWC 2023 Draw has been made, the match schedule has been announced and each of the qualified teams, and their fans, now know exactly where they will be during the pool phase, and potentially beyond.
With that in mind, we thought we would give you an opportunity to explore each of the nine stadiums that are preparing to throw open their doors for rugby’s bicentennial celebrations.
Home to the city’s Ligue 1 football club, Stade de Bordeaux opened its doors in May 2015, less than two weeks before it hosted the semi-finals of that year’s Top 14 play-offs.
Rugby returned to the venue in June, 2019, when 42,071 fans filled the stands to watch Stade Toulousain take on Stade Rochelais in the Top 14 semi-finals, an attendance which remains the stadium record.
Stade de Bordeaux staged five matches during UEFA Euro 2016 and has also hosted the French national football team and the Coupe de la Ligue final.
Fiji, Ireland, South Africa and Wales are already confirmed to be playing in Bordeaux during RWC 2023, as the futuristic stadium gets ready to host five matches.
Visiting fans, whether they have purchased a Follow My Team pack or a Bordeaux Pack, can expect a relaxing stay in the wine capital of the world.
Away from the vineyards, meanwhile, Bordeaux is a World Heritage Site, which offers a stunning mix of food, culture and architecture.
Built as a home for Lille OSC, Stade Pierre Mauroy was opened in August 2012 and three months later hosted its first rugby match as France beat Argentina 39-22.
Lille, meanwhile, was a host city during Rugby World Cup 1991, when the nearby Stade du Nord was the venue for New Zealand’s quarter-final victory against Canada.
Thanks to the ingenuous design of the stadium, which hosted UEFA Euro 2016 matches, it can easily be configured for other events as one half of the pitch can be raised to slide over the other.
Stade Pierre Mauroy has consequently hosted three Davis Cup finals, the knockout phase of Euro Basket 2015 and several high-profile music concerts.
Five RWC 2023 pool matches are scheduled to be played at the stadium, with hosts France, England and Scotland spending time in the northern city.
Opened in January 2016, the home of Olympique Lyonnais has since hosted a series of international events, including rugby.
Parc OL had been open for only four months when the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals were played at the new stadium.
In November, 2017, a France XV were beaten 28-23 by New Zealand in front of 58,607 fans. At the end of that season, Parc OL was chosen as the venue for the Top 14 semi-finals.
The city, meanwhile, has a rich rugby pedigree. Stade de Gerland played host to matches at RWC 2007, while the city boasts a two-time French champion club in the shape of Lyon OU.
Parc OL hosted matches during both UEFA Euro 2016 and the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019, while the Coupe de la Ligue final and UEFA Europa League final have also been played on its hybrid grass.
Wales and Australia are scheduled to compete in the first RWC 2023 match at the stadium, and with hosts France, Italy and New Zealand also due to pass through Lyon, fans with tickets for Lyon should be in for a treat.
An historic stadium that has been renovated three times since it opened in 1937, Stade Vélodrome hosted two quarter-finals at RWC 2007.
The home of Ligue 1 side Olympique de Marseille and a host venue during the FIFA World Cup in 1938 and 1998, the stadium staged its first test match on 18 November, 2000, when France beat New Zealand 42-33.
Since then Les Bleus have played a further 11 tests at the iconic venue, winning nine and losing twice — against Argentina in 2004 and the All Blacks in 2009.
On 18 April, 2009, RC Toulonnais played their home Top 14 match against Stade Toulousain in front of 57,039 fans and have returned on a handful of occasions since.
Sitting on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea, Marseille is a historic port city that will provide fans with an opportunity to explore away from the rugby.
Stade de la Beaujoire played host to one of Rugby World Cup’s most iconic matches, as Fiji ran in four tries to beat Wales 38-34 and book their place in the quarter-finals.
It was the last of three matches the stadium hosted during RWC 2007, with England beating Samoa and a happier memory for Wales fans, a 42-17 defeat of Canada.
The stadium first hosted a test on 15 November, 1986, when France beat New Zealand 16-3, and Les Bleus played a further six matches at the venue. The last of which was a 34-12 defeat of Fiji on 13 November, 2010.
Opened in 1984, Stade de la Beaujoire is the home of Ligue 1 side FC Nantes and also hosted matches at UEFA Euro 1984 and FIFA World Cup 1998, including Brazil’s 3-2 win over Denmark in the quarter-finals.
Four matches are scheduled to be played at Stade de la Beaujoire with Japan’s meeting with Argentina on the final day of the pool stage the highlight for fans in town.
Home to Ligue 1 club OGC Nice, Stade de Nice is another RWC 2023 host venue that also staged matches during UEFA Euro 2016 and FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019.
The stadium hosted its only test to date on 17 August, 2019, when Maxime Médard scored two tries to help France to a 32-3 win over Scotland. RC Toulonnais have also played some Top 14 home matches at the stadium.
Stade de Nice is scheduled to host four matches during RWC 2023, with Wales, England, Japan, Italy and Scotland among the teams that will play on its manicured turf.
England’s encounter with Japan on 17 September, 2023, promises to be one not to miss as Eddie Jones comes up against the side he coached at RWC 2015.
Situated on the Côte d’Azur, to the west of Monaco, there will be plenty for fans to get up to in between matches, from relaxing on its beaches to soaking up the local art scene and eating niçoise style.
Built for the FIFA World Cup 1998, France’s national stadium has since also become home for the country’s rugby team.
Les Bleus first played in Saint-Denis on 7 February, 1998, when Philippe Bernat-Salles and the late Christophe Dominici both crossed the whitewash in a 24-17 defeat of England.
By the time the Six Nations 2021 concludes, Stade de France will have hosted 97 men’s test matches — including a RWC 1999 quarter-final and the France 2007 final.
South Africa beat England in both of those matches, and the Springboks will return to the iconic stadium on 23 September, 2023 to play Ireland — the first time that fixture will be played at Rugby World Cup.
In total, Stade de France will host 10 matches at RWC 2023, including the mouthwatering opening match between Les Bleus and the All Blacks, both semi-finals, the bronze final and final.
Fans with tickets to any of those matches will, of course, find plenty to do away from the action, with the chance to visit world-leading museums, heritage sights and much, much more in nearby Paris.
The oldest stadium selected as a host venue for RWC 2023, Stade Geoffroy Guichard was opened on 13 September, 1931, and has since undergone three renovations, each one ahead of its use at a major football tournament.
France’s rugby players first used the stadium on 24 November, 2001, when Les Bleus ran in 12 tries to beat Fiji 77-10.
Six years later, Stade Geoffroy Guichard — named after the businessman who purchased the land on which it was built — hosted three RWC 2007 pool matches.
Scotland appeared in two of those, beating Portugal 56-10 and Italy 18-16, despite conceding the only try of the match.
Samoa and the USA, meanwhile, contested a 46-point thriller and the former could return to the venue in 2023, should they qualify for the tournament as Oceania 1.
Four RWC 2023 matches are scheduled to be played at Stade Geoffroy Guichard, with Australia, Argentina, Fiji and Italy guaranteed to play in the ‘City of Design’.
Built to be a FIFA World Cup 1938 host venue, Stadium de Toulouse has since undergone three renovations and staged matches when football’s global showpiece returned to France 60 years later, and again during UEFA Euro 2016.
The historic stadium has had a long association with rugby, having served as a home for Stade Toulousain during Top 14 and European Champions Cup matches.
France first played at Stadium de Toulouse on 15 December, 1963, when Les Bleus were held to a 6-6 draw against Romania.
Eleven years later, the stadium provided the venue for a 13-4 South Africa win over France, but Les Bleus have enjoyed some happy moments in Toulouse too.
France have twice beaten the All Blacks at Stadium de Toulouse, 18-13 in November, 1977, and 22-15 in November, 1995, when tries from Jean-Luc Sadourny, Richard Dourthe and Philippe Saint-André helped defeat a New Zealand side containing World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Jonah Lomu.
Les Bleus also gained revenge on the Springboks in November, 2009, when Vincent Clerc’s first-half try helped the hosts to a 20-13 victory.
By that stage, Stadium de Toulouse had hosted four RWC 2007 matches, featuring the hosts, Fiji, Japan, Namibia, Portugal, Romania and New Zealand.
Fiji, Japan and the All Blacks are already guaranteed to return to Toulouse during RWC 2023, while Namibia could join them should they qualify as Africa 1.