The journey towards Rugby World Cup 2023 picked up pace last week when the France 2023 Rugby Tour by SNCF got underway in Lille.

Visitors to Lille-Métropole between 21-23 July were able to board the RWC 2023 exhibition train, which gives fans an insight into what they can expect next year as well as walking them through tournaments past.

An immersive virtual reality experience, meanwhile, transports visitors to the opening match of RWC 2023 between France and New Zealand, enabling them to get a taste of what the atmosphere will be like at Stade de France on 8 September next year.

Jerseys and memorabilia from each of the past nine men’s editions of Rugby World Cup line the walls of the carriages, while a light is shone both on the qualified teams and the positive impact at the heart of France 2023’s ambition for rugby and society.

The star attraction of the France 2023 Rugby Tour, however, is undoubtedly the Webb Ellis Cup itself. Visitors are given a close-up look at the trophy that has been awarded to each of the winners of the nine men’s editions of Rugby World Cup, dating back to 1987.

From Lille, the train departed for Le Touquet-Paris-Plage on Sunday, which will host England for the duration of the RWC 2023 pool stage, and it continued its journey through Amiens and Deauville on Monday and Tuesday.

The France 2023 Rugby Tour will visit Rennes, Saint-Malo and Brest before the end of this week. In total, it will have stopped in 51 towns and cities in France across 114 days by the time that it finishes its stay in Paris on 12 November.

As one of the RWC 2023 host cities, visitors to the exhibition in Lille were also able to check out the Rugby Village that had been set up outside of the station.

Designed to be a space that allows people to celebrate RWC 2023, the Rugby Villages will feature a small pitch on which touch rugby competitions for fans and schoolchildren will be played, as well as stands promoting the tournament partners.

Rugby Villages will also be constructed at iconic locations in Nantes, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nice, Saint-Étienne, Lyon, Toulouse and Paris.

Meanwhile, 14 photo exhibitions will celebrate this nationwide Rugby World Cup at 15 train stations on the France 2023 Rugby Tour, meaning there is plenty to keep fans amused over the next four months.

For more information and for the full France 2023 Rugby Tour schedule, click here.