Beautiful tries, a drop-goal exhibition, pink card controversy and last-minute fumbles – the opening weekend of the 2023 Rugby World Cup was not wanting storylines.
However what have been the primary speaking factors because the match bought underneath method in France? Listed below are our seven key moments.
Beauden Barrett v Antoine Dupont
An edge-of-the-seat foot race adopted by some fast pondering lit up the opening evening in Paris between France and New Zealand.
Because the host nation kicked behind the All Black heavies, it was a straight one-on-one sprint to collect the free ball between two of rugby’s largest stars.
The vociferous Parisian help cheered their captain Antoine Dupont’s each step and each males appeared to have fingers on the ball on the similar time.
Cleverly, Dupont then launched it with Beauden Barrett nonetheless hanging on and the All Black had no possibility however to hold it in contact. The sound was deafening inside Stade de France and the hosts went on to report a 27-13 win.
Document-breaker Sexton returns
Eire talisman Johnny Sexton might not have kicked a ball competitively in six months, however he slotted again in with ease in the course of the 82-8 win over Romania.
Two tries and 7 conversions gave the fly-half a factors tally of 24, surpassing Ronan O’Gara as his nation’s highest scorer on the World Cup.
His presence additionally meant he grew to become the oldest participant to characterize Eire on the age of 38 years and 58 days.
Nevertheless, arguably the important thing second was when the elder statesmen was changed within the second half absolutely intact. Eire and their followers will need Sexton to be wrapped in cotton wool between matches as they pursue a primary world title.
English ill-discipline & pink card inconsistency
Tom Curry grew to become the fourth England participant to be despatched off this 12 months inside three minutes of his return to the facet after an ankle damage.
Curry was despatched to the sin-bin for a head-on-head contact with Argentina’s Juan Cruz Mallia and was by no means to return, as he grew to become the primary man to be proven an upgraded pink card by the ‘bunker’ on the World Cup.
England have fallen foul of the brand new system in current weeks, with Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola each serving bans in the course of the opening-weekend win.
However Steve Borthwick’s males might really feel barely exhausting accomplished by potential inconsistency that noticed Chile captain Martin Sigren obtain yellow in opposition to Japan and South Africa centre Jesse Kriel keep on the sector with out even a evaluation in opposition to Scotland for similar-looking offences.
Ford’s kicking manifesto
With Curry off the sector and the situations humid, England wanted another plan.
Cue George Ford’s trusty proper boot, because the fly-half stepped as much as clip over the primary of three drop-goals and hand the 14 males of England the lead.
The second stunned nearly all of these inside Marseille’s Stade Velodrome, however as Freddie Steward ran over to congratulate his team-mate, Ford merely turned his again and bought again into place to obtain the Argentina kick-off.
Two extra drop objectives adopted within the first-half, together with one from the midway line, and 6 extra penalties took Ford and England’s factors tally to 27 – his highest return in a single Take a look at.
South Africa fly-half Mannie Libbok has stepped as much as Take a look at degree with ease as he fills in for 2019 World Cup winner Handre Pollard.
The 26-year-old is an aesthetic distributor with ball in hand, however his boot is an equally devastating weapon for the defending champions.
Fed the ball in midfield, with out a lot as a look upwards Libbok instinctively nudged a no-look crossfield kick-pass to Kurt-Lee Arendse for the winger to catch and rating.
Arendse didn’t have to interrupt stride as he scored one of many tries of the opening weekend to ship the Springboks on the way in which to a 18-3 victory in Marseille.
Fernandez opens Chile’s account
Debutants Chile needed to overcome the percentages to grow to be the twenty sixth nation to qualify for the World Cup however they made a dream begin of their opener with Japan.
Fly-half Rodrigo Fernandez dived over after six minutes to attain their first attempt on the largest stage.
A break down the appropriate appeared to have petered out however the free ball landed on the toes of Fernandez, who kicked by way of to attain.
That transient second of jubilation for Chile and their travelling followers was short-lived nevertheless, as Japan then seized management and ran out 42-12 winners.
Wales let off by Radradra fumble
Wales and Fiji have severe World Cup historical past, with the Pacific Islanders springing a shock in 2007 earlier than triple success for Warren Gatland’s males in 2011, 2015 and 2019 – and the newest instalment was a thriller in Bordeaux.
The northern hemisphere facet regarded poised for a snug win earlier than Fiji hit again with late tries from Josua Tuisova and Mesake Doge.
With the clock within the pink and drained Wales defenders struggling to cowl, the ball was thrown broad to an unmarked Semi Radradra.
A clear take would have certainly led to a easy run-in to maneuver Fiji to inside a degree, and a conversion to observe for the win, however the centre fumbled the ball ahead and Wales held on for a 32-26 victory.
It was an exciting finish to an exciting match and an excellent begin to France 2023.