This Friday, September 8, the Rugby World Cup began with the highly anticipated face-to-face match between France and New Zealand at the Stade de France. A match which recorded an audience record on TF1 with 15.4 million people glued to their screens. Throughout the weekend, matches took place across the four corners of France. While on the ground, the meetings took place without a hitch, outside, several controversies emerged. We'll explain it to you.
To launch the Rugby World Cup, an opening ceremony was organized at the Stade de France, with a grandiose setting. As soon as the precious trophy was placed in the center of the field, excitement filled the stadium.
Actor Jean Dujardin had the honor of opening the ball. He entered the lawn on his bicycle, proudly displaying bread sticks in the shape of an oval balloon. His presence was particularly appreciated by the public, who gave him a warm ovation. However, he was not the only one to participate, because singer Vianney, actor-director Philippe Lacheau and former top model Adriana Karembeu were also there. As for Zaz, she opened the ceremony by captivating the audience with her voice.
While the evening promised to be memorable, the ceremony took an unexpected turn which caused confusion among the public. When Jean Dujardin's beret flew off, it created real visual chaos on the pitch. Celebrities, volunteers and dancers rushed to try to recover this precious headgear, leaving viewers perplexed as to the choice of this staging creating confusion. While the ceremony sparked mixed reactions, on social media and in national media, some described these performances as “very French clichés.” Foreign media also expressed puzzlement. WalesOnline called it “bizarre”, while The Telegraph called it “confusing”.
So what does Jean give in terms of ideas for the opening ceremony?
Another concern widely commented on by Internet users and viewers: the national anthems performed a cappella by children from CM1 to Terminale, as part of the “La Mêlée des Choirs” system coordinated by the France 2023 organizing committee.
The most rotten Marseillaise in history
Controversy erupted during the opening match between France and New Zealand, when La Marseillaise was performed in an unusual, canonical way. Many deplored a lack of rhythm and emotion in this interpretation and expressed their dissatisfaction on social networks.
This choice of a canonical interpretation also led to a lack of synchronization between the supporters, the children's choir and the players. This controversy generated numerous comments on social media, including that of former professional tennis player Julien Benneteau, who called this interpretation “the most rotten Marseillaise in history.” The problem was also repeated during the other opening matches of the competition, with national anthems barely audible.
The start of the Rugby World Cup was also marked by stadium access problems, leaving supporters frustrated.
In Marseille, during the match between England and Argentina on Saturday evening, criticism increased. Photographs and videos were widely shared, notably by English journalists, showing a large crowd stuck around the Vélodrome stadium, a few minutes before kick-off. Supporters were even seen jumping over the barriers to reach the stands.
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Earlier in the day, in Bordeaux, where the match between Ireland and Romania was being played, Irish fans faced problems accessing the stadium. Several testimonies cited by the Irish press report crowded trams, without air conditioning while temperatures reached more than 35 degrees, and a breakdown delaying the transport of supporters.
Huge queues outside stadium public transport has failed as trams can’t handle the crowds. Thousands outside right now. We headed for the stadium 2 hours before kick off. Irish fans frustrated but in good spirits. Dreadful organisation.
Inside the stadiums, new problems emerged, this time related to the supply of beer and water. Several internet users shared their experiences on social media, saying they waited for more than an hour to buy beer, while others were disappointed to find the kegs empty when they arrived. During the opening match, no bottle of water was available: “During the players' refreshment break in the 20th minute, we also wanted to refresh ourselves, but after going through five refreshment stands, we gave up , there was no more water or beer. Everyone went to the bathroom,” said one supporter.