Here’s your stadium guide for the World Cup


Compiled by Elaine Krige

If you are lucky enough to watch this year’s Rugby World Cup final in France, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the game at some of the world’s oldest, largest or most remarkable rugby stadiums. The rest of us have to be content with the couch in the television room.

Here are some interesting facts about the nine stadiums being fielded for the 2023 Rugby World Cup:

Stade de Bordeaux

Capacity: 42,060

This stadium is located in the French city of Bordeaux, which is considered the wine capital of the world. The stadium’s modern building style is characterized by a pure white, square structure, surrounded by row upon row of white pillars and is designed to ensure maximum visibility from any vantage point.

It was completed in May 2015 and several rugby and football matches have been hosted here since then. Musicians such as Celine Dion, Ed Sheeran and the rock band Guns N’ Roses have also performed here.

South Africa will face Romania here on 17 September. Other teams playing here are Fiji, Wales, Ireland, Samoa, Chile and Georgia.

Stade Pierre-Mauroy

Capacity: 50,186

The stadium was completed in August 2012 in the French city of Lille. Three months later, the first rugby match, France against Argentina, was played here. The unique design of the stadium, which allows for one half of the field to be raised so that the other half can slide under it, makes it possible for different sports to be played here, including football, handball and tennis. The Pierre-Mauroy Stadium will then also be used for basketball and handball matches during the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

Two of England’s pool matches will be played at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium during this year’s World Cup. France, Uruguay, Chile, Scotland, Romania, Tonga and Samoa also play here.

OL Stadium

Capacity: 59,186

The stadium was completed in January 2016 in Lyon. New Zealand plays two pool matches here and Wales and Australia face each other in the first match at this stadium. Then Italy, France, Uruguay and Namibia will also flex their rugby muscles here.

Lyon itself has a strong rugby history. During the Rugby World Cup in 2007, two matches were played at the Stade de Gerland. The French Rugby Club Lyon OU has also won the local rugby tournament twice.

The stadium also regularly hosts ice hockey matches. In December 2016, it hosted the ice hockey game with the most spectators (25,142). The match was between Lyon and Grenoble.

Stade Velodrome

Capacity: 67,394

This stadium in Marseilles was already completed in June 1937, a few years before the Second World War. It has since undergone three renovations, the last of which was in 2014. The Boks kick off their World Cup tournament here, when they face Scotland on September 10. Other teams playing here are Namibia, England, France, Argentina and Tonga. Two of the four quarter-finals are decided here, just like in 2007.

Marseille, a historic port city, is located on the Mediterranean Sea and still has the largest commercial port in France.

Stade de la Beaujoire

Capacity: 37,473

The stadium is located in Nantes and was completed in May 1984. The first rugby match played here was in November of the same year, when France beat the All Blacks 16-3.
It is also here that Fiji achieved their famous victory over Wales during the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The Fijians’ narrow victory of 38 – 34 secured them a place in the quarter-finals of the tournament.

Nantes itself is the birthplace of the French writer Jules Verne, and is famous for his Verne-inspired project Machines of the Isle. This includes a gigantic mechanical elephant that takes visitors on rides around the city.

Four matches for this year’s tournament are scheduled here, namely Ireland v Tonga, Argentina v Chile, Wales v Georgia and Japan v Argentina.

Stade de Nice

Capacity: 35,169

This is one of the smaller stadiums and was completed in September 2013. It is located in the iconic city of Nice on the French Riviera. This city is particularly famous for the Cannes international film festival which is presented here annually.

The stadium has only hosted one international rugby match, during which France beat Scotland 32 – 3.

Four World Cup matches will be played here this year, with Wales, England, Italy, Scotland and Japan competing here this year.

Stade de France

Capacity: 81,500

With more than 80,000 seats, this stadium in Saint-Denis is by far the largest sports stadium that will be used during the World Cup. Two quarter-finals, two semi-finals and the final will be decided here.

The Stade de France was completed in September 2013 and is located several kilometers from the central part of Paris.

It is the sixth largest stadium in Europe and one of only two stadiums in the world that hosted the final of a Soccer World Cup (1998) as well as a Rugby World Cup (1999 and 2007). The other stadium is the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, Japan.

Scotland, Japan, Italy, Tonga, England and Uruguay will play here during the pool matches. If the Boks play their cards right, they may also get the chance to play in this historic stadium during the semi-final or the final.

Stade Geoffroy-Guichard

Capacity: 41,965

This is the oldest stadium that will be in use during the Rugby World Cup. The stadium was completed in September 1931 and is therefore more than 90 years old. It has since been renovated three times, each time before an important football tournament. The stadium is located in Saint-Ettienne and named after the businessman Geoffroy-Guichard, who owned the land on which the stadium was built.

The stadium hosted its first rugby match in 2001 – between France and Fiji – and in 2007 was used for three of the Rugby World Cup’s pool matches. This year, four matches will be played here, including Italy against Namibia and Australia against Fiji.

Saint Ettienne is known as the city of design and is home to France’s museum of modern art.

Stadium de Toulouse

Capacity: 33,150

This stadium’s location is unique: It is located on the Isle of Ramier, a string of small islands surrounded by the Garonne river in Toulouse. The stadium was completed in 1983, in time to host the then World Cup.

The Springboks won here in 1974 with 13 – 4 over the Roosters. However, France hung up the signs in November 2009 when they beat the Boks 20 – 13 on the same pitch.

This year, Japan, Chile, New Zealand, Namibia, Portugal, Samoa and Fiji will compete on this field.

Sources: World Rugby, Rugby World and Stadium Guide