The Rugby World Cup 2023, hosted by France, concluded in a showdown at Stade de France between two giants and the most successful rugby teams of all time. South Africa dramatically bested New Zealand and secured their fourth title, etching their name both on the Webb Ellis Cup and history. Beyond the on-field triumph, this edition of the tournament distinguished itself by setting new standards in terms of attendance, engagement, and a commitment to leaving a lasting legacy.
The final at Stade de France was nothing short of a global spectacle, with South Africa’s victory witnessed by 80,000 fervent fans and millions more through broadcast and social media channels. The record-breaking attendance and social media impressions underscored the event’s status as the most talked-about rugby tournament ever, with a global broadcast audience exceeding 800 million.
However, it was not just the final which had fans in awe. The quarter-finals and ensuing semis had the edges of a few seats worn down and nails bitten down to the bone. With just a handful of points difference between all the games, they have been cemented in history as some of the closest and most intensely fought.
The losses to both France and Ireland were particularly sore this tournament, however, as both teams and their fans believed it was their year. We will have to tune into the upcoming Six Nations to see whether these setbacks have dampened either team’s spirits.
And what would a world cup be without any upsets? Portugal ignited the passion of their nation by securing their first-ever win, while Fiji beat two-time winners, Australia, to qualify for the quarters. A special mention would be Chile, making their tournament debut, who showcased grit and determination, earning widespread admiration
France, hailed as exceptional hosts played a pivotal role in the success of the tournament. Overcoming the challenges posed by the pandemic, the nation opened its arms to the rugby family, creating a vibrant atmosphere across stadiums in cities nationwide.
Off the pitch, Rugby World Cup 2023 set new benchmarks for positive impact and engagement. The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program showcased rugby’s ability to contribute meaningfully to society. Initiatives such as raising €1 million for Rugby au Coeur, the tournament’s official charity, setting record use of public transport, and training 1,400 apprentices in event management, security, and tourism reflected a commitment to community development and sustainability.
As the tournament bid adieu, it left behind a legacy that extended far beyond the final whistle. Initiatives laid the groundwork for future growth and development, international fans and the French public contributed to an atmosphere of celebration and togetherness that was absent for a long time after the last World Cup due to the pandemic that shortly followed. It is for these reasons the Rugby World Cup 2023 will be remembered for years to come.