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The first match of the 2023 Rugby World Cup (RWC) between France and New Zealand kicks off at 20.15 on Friday 8th September at the Stade de France, Paris.  A massive game to start what is going to be an exceptional tournament.

It's live on ITV in the UK with all 48 matches shown across ITV1, ITV4 and their streaming channel ITVX.

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Here’s a bit of history about the tournament…

The Men’s Rugby Union World Cup, often referred to simply as the Rugby World Cup (RWC), is an international rugby union tournament that has grown into one of the world's most prestigious and anticipated sporting events. The tournament’s rich history is characterized by its evolution, intense competition, and its role in shaping the global rugby landscape.

The inception of the Rugby World Cup can be traced back to discussions among rugby officials during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, it wasn’t until 1987 that the inaugural tournament was held in New Zealand and Australia. The concept quickly gained traction, and since then, the RWC has become a quadrennial event, attracting teams from all corners of the rugby world.

The early years of the Rugby World Cup were dominated by southern hemisphere powerhouses, particularly New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. These nations showcased their rugby prowess and laid the foundation for what would become a fiercely competitive tournament. The 1995 Rugby World Cup held in South Africa was a pivotal moment, symbolizing the end of the apartheid era and uniting the nation through sport. South Africa’s victory in that tournament held deep cultural significance, exemplifying the potential for sports to foster reconciliation.

As the years progressed, the Rugby World Cup expanded its reach, with more teams joining the fray. This led to a greater diversity of playing styles and strategies, enriching the tournament’s competitive nature. The 2007 World Cup in France witnessed an upset of monumental proportions when Fiji defeated Wales, highlighting the tournament’s capacity for surprises and underdog victories.

One of the most dramatic and memorable moments in RWC history occurred during the 2015 tournament in England. Japan’s stunning upset of South Africa sent shockwaves through the rugby community, exemplifying the tournament’s capacity for underdog victories and showcasing the global growth of the sport.

Beyond the on-field action, the Rugby World Cup has significantly advanced the sport’s popularity and inclusivity. It has allowed rugby to expand into new markets, contributing to the sport’s global footprint. The RWC has also led to increased investments in rugby infrastructure, fostering grassroots development and nurturing future generations of players.

In recent years, the Rugby World Cup has continued to evolve, adapting to new challenges and opportunities. The 2019 tournament in Japan saw impressive attendance figures and fan engagement, underlining the tournament’s ability to transcend cultural and geographical boundaries.

Looking ahead, the Rugby World Cup continues to be a pivotal event that shapes rugby’s future. It acts as a showcase for the sport’s elite talent and provides a platform for nations to test their rugby mettle on the world stage. The tournament’s legacy is marked by thrilling matches, iconic moments, and the enduring spirit of camaraderie that defines rugby union.

In conclusion, the Men’s Rugby Union World Cup has a storied history that spans decades, reflecting the evolution of rugby and its global impact. From its humble beginnings to its current status as a monumental sporting event, the RWC has consistently captured the hearts of fans worldwide and remains a cornerstone of international rugby union.

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