Kicking off the RWC 2023 will be the match of the host nation, France vs New Zealand’s All Blacks, which promises to be an enthralling game to begin the tournament.

Under Fabien Galthié, this French team have been assiduous in their focus and long build up over the last four years to the RWC. Watching them develop, has been reminiscent of the glory days of mercurial, ball in hand, running French rugby that I remember growing up!

Much has been said about the outstanding Antoine Dupont – quite rightly rated by many as the best player in the world right now, but one man does not a team make, though he always leads from the front and is unfaltering in attack. France will sorely miss the magical skills of injured Romain Ntmack, but they have depth of skill in their squad Including Julian Marchand, Damian Peynaud and the brilliant Gael Fickou.

Although only rated third in the world, behind Ireland and South Africa, this dangerous French team looms over the tournament like a panther waiting to pounce.  Strong in defence, (thanks to the excellent Shaun Edwards) but also determined in every aspect of play, including some spectacular offloading.

But there is incredible pressure for the French team to deliver on the expectations – many a French team of old, have let emotions take over and derail their match plan, but I think this squad is made of more focus. In the words of the French Captain on the Eve of their first match of the tournament:

“There’s pressure because we’re expected to do well, and we’ve built up people’s hopes over the last four seasons with the results we’ve had. But the pressure isn’t as high as the motivation and standards we set ourselves – or our ambition. Above all, we believe in ourselves. That’s what drives us. We have to keep doing what we’ve been doing for the last four years.”

This is the second time that France have hosted the RWC, and despite reaching the final three times, the Webb Ellis Cup has escaped them. So as host and with strong home support, France will be playing their hearts out to finally become World Champions.

Captain: Antoine Dupont

Player to Watch:  Louis Bielle-Biarrey – Originally, he should have been playing with the U20 team but was instead picked as part of the senior World Cup team. The youngest team member ever called up for the French side at a RWC, he has already shown style – including a stunning try against Scotland in August. Also keep an eye on his (also young) teammate Emilien Gailleton.

To find out more about French Rugby –

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What to Eat & Drink whilst watching Les Bleus

Food: Traditional gastronomic French Cuisine is revered the world over – but they do have great simpler regional food as well, which might better suit match day food! The classic would be Crepes or Galettes, which are super simple to make at home (especially if you like gadgets and treat yourself to a crepe maker!). Torchon Ham and Gruyere Cheese is a classic but suggest you also have a mega size pot of Nutella on hand (not together!)

One food that leaps to mind when you think of traditional France – garlic! For simple yet delicious match day food – just make up garlic bread at home (baguettes and lashing of garlic butter – it does not get much simpler, but the key is lashings of butter)! Always unwrap the silve foil around the baguette for the last 4 or 5 mins of cooking to allow it to crisp up. But to rack it up a little, try making it with roasted garlic rather than raw.  

Take a whole garlic bulb, rub off papery bits, cut top off so you can see cloves, place on silver foil, drizzle with olive oil, wrap up and bake at 180 degrees for about 35 minutes – happily take longer if not soft enough.  Then squeeze out the individual cloves and mix with the butter. 

Try making a tempting onion, olive and anchovy tart from the south of France – pissaladiè 

Unless you are lucky enough to live in the South Downs, then head to  for their irresistible version!

France is obviously famous for cheese and a cheeseboard is always a match day winner:

Brie de Meaux is widely available, and irresistible when at point of perfect ripeness, but do look out for the Paxton & Whitfield version that is hand layered with black truffles. 

Comté is a classic from the Jura region. Raw milk from only grass & hay fed cattle. All Comté is delicious but if you can lay your hands on some 24-month aged, the nuttiness and texture is superb. 

Epoisses – From the region of Burgundy, the cheese is washed with Marc de Bourgogne. Savoury and very pungent.

St Marcellin – Small individual forms, citrus & fresh when young, but worth keeping a short while till it becomes slightly oozy. 

Morbier – Semi hard with a layer of ash running through the centre. 

Roquefort – There are other French blue cheeses, but the king of French blue cheese must be Roquefort. Sweet yet salty, strong yet creamy – unmistakable!

Visit or for great French selections. 


Beer:  Majority of beer drunk in France is made by one of the major brewers – and Kronenbourg is the leading brand.  But there are other beers to look out for such as Saint Omer Blonde and Bellerose Blanche. Bellerose from (yes, they stock French as well as Belgium!)

Ideal for a party – a keg of Pelforth Blonde made in Lille (which is hosting five of the RWC matches) – – They also sell the slightly quirky French Desperados, beer flavoured with Tequila. 

Wine: Despite the explosion of Wine Production in almost every country, France is still seen by many as the Mother Country of Wine.  Just a few suggestions for your match day tipple to cheer on Les Bleus.

How could I not include a wine from one of France’s iconic Rugby Players, Gerard Bertrand. His reds from Southern French varieties Carignan, Grenache noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre, are ideal with a BBQ, but he also makes a charming Rosé – Gerard Betrand Cote des Roses – available £10.99 from  Appealing soft red fruits with burst of acidity with refreshing finish – also available in magnums – perfect for parties!

Château Thieuley Blanc from Bordeaux, one of my favourite go-to white wines and great value. Unlike so many other white Bordeaux, who have opted to slavishly follow the monovarietal Sauvignon Blanc route, this family run estate still blends Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, which gives more complexity. Bone dry but with good, rounded mouthfeel. Great food wine – or hammock wine come to that! £10.95 from

Proving that red Bordeaux does not have to cost the earth, an attractive Merlot dominant wine from one of the satellite St Emilion appellations on the Right Bank. Le Vieux Chateaux Guibeau from a lovely family run property in Puisseguin St Emilion. Full of ripe plums, mulberries & spice in the glass, superb with steak! £17.99 from

From the Southern Rhone valley, Le Pavillon du Chateau Beauchene, Cotes du Rhone is a great all rounder red for the rugby. Made from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault, its bursting with energy, lots of fresh & dried berry fruit with underlying note of pepper & garigue herbs.  £12.95 from From the same stable, if you’d like to splash out a bit more, their Chateauneuf du Pape Vignobles de la Serrière is delightful, from old vines (50 – 100 years old!), with more complexity, after the notes of violet, black fruits comes a savoury balsamic note. £30 from the same wine merchant. 

For the inevitable post-match review – why not kick back with a small glass of Sauternes? Perfect foil to Roquefort cheese– and Lions de Suduiraut Sauternes is wonderfully indulgent, whilst being slightly more modern and slightly lighter in style. Great winemaking as the sweetness level has been perfectly balanced with acidity so it’s not cloying at all. Delicious notes of toast & marmalade. Available in half bottles (£17) or 75cl size (£32) from