Hosts France will take on three-time winners New Zealand in the opening match of the 2023 World Cup. The Pool A fixture will be played on Friday 8 September at the Stade de France in Paris.
“Everyone who likes rugby dreams of seeing this game,” France captain Charles Ollivon said of the clash with the All Blacks. “Kicking off our World Cup against the All Blacks, there’s no equivalent.”
France and New Zealand have a rich history in the World Cup, with Les Bleus causing a major upset in a 43-31 victory in the 1999 semi-final after being 17-0 down at halftime, and the All Blacks winning the 2011 title with an 8-7 win in the final.
They have met a total of seven times at the World Cup. “It’s going to be a massive occasion playing France in the opening match of the tournament,” said New Zealand’s Sam Cane. “Matches between our two sides have been some of the most celebrated games in our history, so it’ll be fantastic to meet them once again.”
England begin their campaign against Argentina in Marseille a day later, while Scotland will face defending champions South Africa in the same city on 10 September.
“To be in the same pool as Ireland and Scotland will be a massive challenge, but to win the tournament, you have to be able to beat all the teams and we will be properly tested in the pool phases,” said Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber. England will stay in the south with their second game against Japan scheduled for 17 September in Nice.
Wales kick-off their Pool C matches against Fiji in Bordeaux on 10 September and will face Australia in Lyon a fortnight later.
Ireland’s quest to progress beyond the quarter-finals for the first time will start against a European qualifier in Bordeaux on 9 September. Andy Farrell’s men take on South Africa at the Stade de France on 23 September, before completing their Pool B fixtures against Scotland at the same venue on 7 October.