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A mountain to climb immediately: the XV of France, host country of the World Rugby-2023, will face the Italians but especially the New Zealand All Blacks from the group stages (group A), according to the draw made. Monday in Paris.
And the path to a first coronation that French rugby dreams of, promises to be perilous … In the quarter-finals, the team that will come out second in this group could have to face the outgoing world champions, the South Africans, who appear favorites of Group B where they will face Ireland and Scotland.
The bottom of the table appears less raised: finalist of the World-2019, England will have to get rid of Argentina and Japan (group D), opponents within its reach, before a quarter-final that could offer it Australia , Wales or Fiji (group C).
The draw for the competition, which will be held from September 8 to October 21, 2023, was organized in the heart of the capital and in the presence of President Emmanuel Macron, who wanted this competition to be an opportunity to present “the ‘French art of living’.
– “Bring the Cup home” –
“Every twelve years we are in the final, and I did the math, in 2023, it will be twelve years,” he said. This last French final, at Eden Park in Auckland in 2011, was also lost to the All Blacks, who, by a tiny point (8-7), had won the second of their three World Cups. .
“We will be behind you, enthusiastic and demanding,” Emmanuel Macron told the players, calling on them to “bring the Cup home”.
Coach Fabien Galthié knew the risks before Monday. By being placed in hat 2 because of their ranking stopped on January 1, 2020 (7th), while they have since risen to 4th place, the Blues had a good chance of meeting a cador.
But the results obtained by the XV of France in this year 2020, disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, encourage optimism. Deprived of little by England of the Six Nations Tournament as of the Autumn Cup, the Blues in full revival won with the manner seven matches out of nine.
The desire to install a young generation until 2023, with Romain Ntamack (21) and Antoine Dupont (24) at the helm, paid off with prestigious success over England (24-17). And until December, when French reservists totally new to this level came close to inflicting a lesson in humility to the XV de la Rose in Twickenham (22-19 after extra time).
– Nine cities –
The second failure of the XV of France came in March during the Tournament in Scotland (28-17), where they had played most of the match outnumbered, following the exclusion of pillar Mohamed Haouas.
This young generation was also present in the draw, Ntamack and Dupont having made the trip with Captain Charles Ollivon, under the eyes of a great old man, Sébastien Chabal.
Almost three years from the start of the competition, it remains to know the other two opponents of the pool of France, that is to say hats 4 and 5, from American and African qualifications. But for that, we will have to wait a little longer, these matches lasting until November 2022.
The nine host cities (Saint-Denis, Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Nantes, Nice, Saint-Etienne) will have to wait until the end of February to find out their posters.
Why a draw three years before the event? For ticketing reasons. The organizing committee wanted to be able to launch the first sales in March 2021, before the opening of the ticket office for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024, which is planned from 2022.
The French telecom operator Orange has for its part announced that it will be the official sponsor of the competition.
© 2020 AFP