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The opening match to be held September 8, 2023 at the Stade de France will pit France, host country of the competition, against the fierce All Blacks, the eternal New Zealand scarecrow, according to the schedule unveiled on Friday February 26 by the organization. .

Placed in pool A, the Blues will also face a qualifier from the America zone on September 14 in Lille, then that of the Africa zone on September 21 in Marseille.

Before finishing in Lyon, on October 6, against Italy.

But it is the reunion with the triple world champions (1987, 2011, 2015) who will launch the French World Cup (September 8-October 28).

πŸ—“οΈπŸ”₯ See you on πŸ– π¬πžπ©π­πžπ¦π›π«πž πŸπŸŽπŸπŸ‘!


🀝 @AllBlacks

- France Rugby (@FranceRugby) February 26, 2021

"It's the Holy Grail as a player to play a World Cup at home and start against the New Zealanders. To start against the best team ever, it doesn't get better. We're all going there. think long and hard until the match, "said Romain Ntamack, the opener for the Blues.

"We will inevitably have a little lump in the stomach when we play this match but we will have to make the most of it because it will perhaps be one of the best matches of our lives."

This will be the eighth confrontation between the French and New Zealanders in the World Cup.

In 2011, the two nations had already faced each other in the group stage, for a victory for the All Blacks (37-17), before meeting in the final for the coronation of the Kiwis (8-7).

In total, the Blues have only beaten the team on two occasions, 43-31 in the semifinals of the 1999 edition and 20-18 in the quarterfinals of the 2007 World Cup, each time at the end of matches that are remembered.

"France - New Zealand, I dreamed of it since I started working on the World Cup. The best possible match, we will have it on the first day. It will allow us to start the competition, to give a benchmark of attractiveness, "admitted Claude Atcher, director general of the organizing committee, in an interview with AFP.

Reunion in the final?

"It's a huge opportunity to play against France at the opening of the tournament. The matches between our two teams are among the most famous in our history, so it will be great to meet them once again", reacted the captain of the All Blacks, Sam Cane, quoted in a statement from the New Zealand federation.

The two opponents of the first match will not be able to meet again before the final, scheduled for October 28, at the Stade de France.

This is also the ideal scenario, according to Claude Atcher. 

"I would love to see a final between France and New Zealand, or even against England. They are our best enemies. Two minutes from the end, we put a drop or a penalty, which allows us to be world champions. From a point ... ", he begins to dream.

But for that, it will be necessary to get out of the pool and win its quarter-final, at the Stade de France, on October 14 or 15.

Before the semi-finals on the weekend of October 20 and 21, and the title game the following week.

"A balanced schedule", according to the organizer

For their part, the South African title holders will launch their campaign in front of Scotland on September 10 at the Stade VΓ©lodrome in Marseille.

The teammates of Cheslin Kolbe and Siya Kolisi will also cross swords with Ireland on September 23 at the Stade de France, while the duel between the two Celtic neighbors will take place in the Dionysian enclosure on October 7.

In Pool D, England will find Argentina on September 9, which the XV de la Rose had chewed without batting an eyelid (39-10) during the group stage in 2019, and Japan, the last host of the World Cup.

Finally, the Fijians will have a lot to do in Group C, with Wales, which they challenge on September 10 in Bordeaux, and Australia on September 17 in Saint-Γ‰tienne.

"It's a long-term job to build it. The issues, in terms of organization, transport, rest time ..., are complex. It's a complex alchemy but I think we have built a balanced calendar, with very nice posters in each of the cities, "Atcher also explained.

In total, forty-eight matches will be played in nine host cities (Saint-Denis, Marseille, Nice, Lille, Toulouse, Lyon, Bordeaux, Saint-Γ‰tienne, Nantes).

"Each city hosts at least one of the teams qualified for the quarter-finals in Japan," said the boss of the World-2023.

The event ticket office should open mid-March.

With AFP

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