The first day of this 10th Rugby World Cup will go down in history. It was notably marked by the victory of the XV of France against New Zealand. A first defeat in a group match for the All Blacks in the history of the competition! But, behind the scenes, the event has already experienced some hiccups, which it would be a good idea to correct for the future. Starting with these hundreds of English and Argentine fans gathered on Saturday evening on the stairs at the entrance to the Vélodrome when the match had already kicked off.
No incidents were reported, but this is to the credit of the excellent behavior of the supporters who did not get angry and waited patiently while singing songs. World Rugby and France 2023 apologized and were able to correct the situation for Sunday's match.
Also readRugby World Cup: what happened at the Vélodrome before England-Argentina?
But, as they left the stadiums this weekend, supporters raised other issues of discontent. Friday evening at the Stade de France, the intense heat had in no way been anticipated. Soon it was impossible to get any bottle of water. Same for... beers. The heatwave which affected the Paris basin had been predicted for several days. It is now over, and the risk of experiencing such high temperatures again for the rest of the competition is relatively low. But this problem was not only encountered in Saint-Denis, and cannot be attributed to exceptional heat alone.
In Bordeaux, according to Le Parisien, the stocks of beers planned for Sunday evening's match, Wales-Fiji, were used up by the match the day before, Ireland-Romania. In Marseille, after more than 45 minutes of queuing at the refreshment stands, many spectators left empty-handed, whether on Saturday or Sunday for Scotland-South Africa. The fault lies with staff not sufficiently trained in the provision of drinks, poorly managed stocks and poorly estimated demand. The barrels were empty even before the end of the first half. !
Crossed at the exit of the stadium after the England-Argentina match, a bartender told us how he had almost come to blows with supporters who were angry at not being able to quench their thirst. No ice to cool the barrels, impossible to get anything other than foam... We have unfortunately heard this story in several stadiums and in many versions. From the anonymous spectator to the former glory of international rugby, all bear witness to the same screw-ups.
On Monday morning, in the crowded cafes next to Saint-Charles station in Marseille, it was the number 1 topic of conversation, even before commenting on the weekend's matches, for British supporters who had been waiting for more than an hour a coffee-croissant that the waiters were unable to bring them... again due to lack of anticipation. It was difficult, in fact, to predict that after two days of matches, thousands of people would leave the city to follow their team, and that the crowds would be unusual around the station...
While the World Cup in Japan, four years ago, delighted travelers for its meticulous and smooth organization (with the notable exception of a typhoon which caused the cancellation of two matches), the impression left by this first day is a stain. Add to that, the crowded trams in Bordeaux, the itou metros in Marseille… Beyond the alcohol problem, which seems anecdotal. After all, alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health, moreover the question will not arise for the Games, the sale of alcohol being prohibited on the Olympic sites. But when you offer a service, it is important to stick to it…
That's a lot of hiccups in just three days of competition, even though the country was expected on this point after the fiasco of the Champions League final. France 2023 and World Rugby admitted on Wednesday during a press conference that problems had been encountered and, once again, apologized for these various points. Let's hope that the second day, which begins this Thursday evening with France-Uruguay in Lille, will experience fewer mishaps.