It is unfortunate, given the rich amount of compelling storylines on the pitch, but one of the defining threads of the Rugby World Cup thus far has been the organisational difficulties off the pitch.
A six-year wait from being awarded hosting rights to the tournament getting underway would in theory have given the tournament organisers ample time to prepare for an influx of fans to France.
Last year's chaos at the UEFA Champions League final in Paris had many sweating about the prospect for crowd issues at the Rugby World Cup and, on the opening weekend, signs of those issues came to fruition.
Photos and video footage from outside the Stade Vélodrome on Saturday showed swathes of England and Argentina fans stranded outside the ground as massive queues formed for entry to the Marseille stadium.
My lads in Marseille with a few mates for the Rugby and just sent this about 7:15pm. His words “The French are at it again” pic.twitter.com/Dl42LWCJAD
— JohnKeithGreen (@JohnKeithGreen2) September 9, 2023
There were also sizeable queues outside the Stade de Bordeaux on Saturday when Ireland took on Romania, and the trams returning to the city centre at full-time were heavily crowded in unbearable 35 degree heat, as France experienced an intense early autumn heatwave.
Aside from basic logistical issues of getting fans to and from their seats at the opening weekend fixtures of this Rugby World Cup, there was also another problem during Saturday's Ireland opener.
Midway through the second-half of the game against Romania, taps across the stadium seemed to run out of beer, as large queues continued to form at bars around the stadium.
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) September 9, 2023
Bordeaux was not the only venue at which this issue occurred, and the Rugby World Cup organisers have now been forced to comment on the beer shortage during the first few games - blaming it on the 'unprecedented' heatwave which swept France last weekend.
Rugby World Cup organisers explain beer shortages
The organisers of the 2023 Rugby World Cup faced the media this week to comment on the organisation of the opening weekend in France.
Tournament director Michel Poussau was joined by France 2023 chairman Jacques Rivoal and France 2023 CEO Julien Collette, and one of the issues on their agenda was the shortage of beer across several venues last weekend.
Poussau appeared to initially deny that there had been any shortage, before backtracking and admitting that his team were looking into the best ways to solve this pressing issue:
We know there was no beer shortage. There was no lack of beer.
It was a series of unfortunate difficulties. We are going to be working with France 2023, the venues, and our partners, who have done an amazing job helping us address these challenges, to improve the situation.
France 2023 CEO Collette was a tad more honest about the issues posed behind the bars at tournament venues.
Collette suggested that the heat across the country had driven fans to drink more than organisers had expected, while also posing issues for bartenders to keep the beer sufficiently cool to be served to supporters:
The fans' experience is at the heart of our concerns, and we understand the disappointment of fans after the first weekend. We've had a heatwave in September, which has never happened before, which had two major consequences.
[Firstly] the fans drank a lot more - we thought we had sufficient supplies based on previous records, but those records were broken. For example, the previous record was 50,000 cups, and there we sold 90,000 - well over any previous records.
The second consequence is that the barrels have been difficult to keep refrigerated. It was not so much the supplies but how cold the barrels were, which is why there were queues.
We are working hard with our teams to improve the efficiency of the refrigeration and service. The consumption of water also broke records too.
Both Collette and Poussau also acknowledged the "challenges" at both the Stade Vélodrome and Stade de Bordeaux, and said that the organisers were determined to eliminate any potential repeat, as well as ensuring better public transport "fluidity."
Ireland will avoid either venue for their second Rugby World Cup game, when they face Tonga in Nantes on Saturday evening. Kick-off is at 8pm Irish time.