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Ever since the very first Rugby Union Internationals in 1987, the tournament has gone on to become one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. In terms of global TV audiences, the Rugby Union Internationals is only beaten by the FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympics.
Now in its 10th edition, the 2023 Rugby Union Internationals tournament is returning to France. The tournament was last held in France in 2007 where 2.26 million people attended live matches. This total has only been surpassed when England hosted in 2015 and 2.47 million fans watched the tournament around the country.
With huge demand for match tickets, Rugby Union Internationals France 2023 could smash all previous attendance records. And here at Zenseats, we have you covered for every team and every game in each of the host stadiums in 9 amazing cities throughout France. All of the stadiums below are spectacular venues for watching world-class rugby:
Stade de France, Paris
Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux
Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille
OL Stadium, Lyon
Stade de Marseille, Marseille
Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
Stade de Nice, Nice
Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne
Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse
All of these cities promise an outstanding atmosphere before and during the Rugby Union Internationals 2023 matches. So, take your pick and book a trusted ticket with Zenseats.
History and Origins
The first suggestions for a global Rugby Union tournament came in the 1950s. This was just after the rival code inaugurated the Rugby League World Cup in 1954. Given that other international tournaments already existed, including what eventually became the Six Nations, the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB) continually opposed the idea.
But as opinions gradually changed, Australia submitted new proposals in 1983, followed by New Zealand with another push in 1984. When IRFB members voted again in 1985, a global tournament finally received 10-6 majority support. At last, rugby union would have its own Rugby Union Internationals.
Given their significant influence in promoting the tournament concept, the inaugural Rugby Union Internationals was jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 1987. It was a great success. It also started an important shift in Rugby Union itself.
Following an inspiring and successful 1995 Rugby Union Internationals in South Africa, the IRFB declared that Rugby Union would also become a professional sport, after more than a century in amateur status. This marked a seismic change in the sport, ushering Rugby Union into an era of positivity and massive growth.
Rugby Union Internationals Evolution
When the first Rugby Union Internationals was hosted by Australia and New Zealand back in 1987, few could have predicted just how big this event would become. Over the years, this tournament has earned its place on the global sporting map, continually growing and evolving.
There was no qualification for the inaugural 1987 tournament, so the 16 competing teams included the seven core IRFB (now known as World Rugby) members, while the remaining participant nations were invited. While this number of teams would remain the same in the tournament proper, qualifying featured 33 teams for 1991 and 52 ahead of the 1995 Rugby Union Internationals.
Due to the growing popularity of the tournament, and the rapidly improving levels of competitiveness, the 1999 Rugby Union Internationals hosted by Wales featured 20 teams. This has remained the same through to today and we’ll see 20 teams go head-to-head at the 2023 Rugby Union Internationals in France. These teams will be split into four pools of five teams for the opening phase of the tournament, with the top two teams in each pool making progress to the knockout stage.
Further evolution is also planned. World Rugby has announced that for the 2027 Rugby Union Internationals, pool draws will take place closer to the tournament, in response to criticism of the reliance on team rankings. And when the 2031 Rugby Union Internationals takes place in the United States, the tournament will expand to feature 24 participating teams, plus an additional Round of 16 in the knockout stage.
Rugby Union Internationals Success
Altogether, 25 different teams have taken part in the Rugby Union Internationals with Chile set to make their debut at Rugby Union Internationals 2023 in France.
However, the tournament has been dominated by just a handful of teams - and mainly from the Southern Hemisphere. New Zealand and South Africa have won the tournament three times, Australia twice and England once with thanks to that famous Jonny Wilkinson drop goal in 2003, who also happens to be the record point-scorer in the tournament. France have made it to the Rugby Union Internationals final three times, but haven’t won any.
In terms of try scorers, the legendary Jonah Lomu of New Zealand tops the list with South African speedster Bryan Habana. Both have collected 15 Rugby Union Internationals tries.
The Webb Ellis Trophy
Whoever wins the 2023 Rugby Union Internationals in France will get to lift the Webb Ellis Cup. The trophy is named after the English clergyman, William Webb Ellis, who is widely credited as the inventor of rugby after picking the ball up during a game of football and running with it at Rugby School in 1823. Although there’s no hard evidence of this, the tale continues to form an important part of British sporting history and folklore.
But did you know there are actually two trophies? One is the authentic original trophy which is presented to winning teams in the final, while the other is an exact replica, typically used for display and public events. The first was made by Carrington and Company of London in 1906. When the Rugby Union Internationals organisers were looking for a suitable trophy, they were presented with this cup from the jeweller's vault in Regent Street. The organisers said yes and named it the ‘Webb Ellis Cup’.
Who will lift the Webb Ellis Cup at Rugby Union Internationals 2023? Don't miss out on the historic action – secure your Rugby Union Internationals tickets from Zenseats today.
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