We must 'define our territory', says Atcher, before the World Cup

We must ‘define our territory’, says Atcher, before the World Cup

The 15th of France will face the All Blacks on Saturday (9pm), at the Stade de France, at the end of the fall tour. A poster resembling a public rehearsal for Claude Atcher, Director General of Organizing the World Cup. On September 8, 2023, at the same stadium, the Blues and the New Zealanders will face each other in the opening match of the competition.

Claude Atcher, France and New Zealand on Saturday, is it a dream chance to launch the 2023 World Cup with this match that looks like a rehearsal?

This is a huge opportunity for us. This now allows us to announce the launch of the sports competition. Because this match, in a couple of years, will be the one that will launch the competition with an unexpected and amazing poster. And the fact that the calendar chance puts France and New Zealand in opposition from November 20th gives the organizing committee little focus on what this first match will be. On a sporting level, it’s an incredible interest. I met the president of the New Zealand Football Association three weeks ago, and he was there on the World Rugby Board Executive Committee. I asked him how they would handle this match, if they were going to take the big team, was it a reference match or a prep match without the big team. He said: We have come to beat you. At least things were said, it’s square. I told Fabian (Galthia), but the guys know it. It is an important game because it will allow you to define your territory. Not for this reason it will have a direct impact on the match of September 8, 2023, but it is still a match that carries a lot of symbolism, pressure and advantages for whoever controls the other team. This is an important moment for us.

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What did France 2023 plan for this match?

We have some events planned. We produced a four-episode series on the life of Jonah Lomo, the legendary player who marked the confrontations between France and New Zealand. We also have a lot of operations with our partners, because this week we are unveiling two very important and influential partnerships in terms of promoting the Rugby World Cup. Jan Castex, the Prime Minister, will be present at the stadium to sign two agreements with the Ministry of the Interior. This is a powerful moment that points to the importance of the first match in the World Cup on September 8, 2023.

World Cup will be on the grass?

Yes, he will be on the field before the match when the players leave. It’s extra pressure on the players to get past the cup. Each team will go to one side of the cup, and will be able to look at it and imagine that maybe one of the two teams will lift it on October 28, 2023.

Is the opening match really expected?

There are two numbers I can quote. We must have received about 400,000 requests for tickets…for a stadium with 80,000 seats. It is a sign that the audience expects to be there that day, so as not to miss this moment, to be there in the stadium. And with the channel that bought the broadcast rights to the World Cup, its goal is to be able to break the record for the number of viewers of a sporting event in the entire history of television. More than just football. They want to break the record of 1998. It shows the expectations about this game.

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With the All Blacks, you can’t expect a party of poets.

New Zealand does not necessarily have to play in the opening gift …

It’s not necessarily a gift, in fact… At the same time, we have the president of the Federation who was saying that in order to be a world champion you have to beat everyone else. It’s not a gift, but at the same time, it might be a good time to take it because by playing them in the first game, we’re sure we won’t be able to play them again before the possible final. We could only find them in the final.

How did Fabian Galthey react when I told him the words of the NZFA president?

Fabian, not surprised. With the All Blacks team, you can’t expect a party of poets. These are the players who commit 150% when they enter the field. They are so proud of this shirt, this fern, this color, that you shouldn’t expect them to come off as interested. Fabian and the players have already been warned. I have a weakness for thinking that the relatively average game on Sunday against Georgia, it was also poignant to think the following week that they were playing with the New Zealanders. It would seem contradictory, but I’m convinced they didn’t put in a great game on Sunday! I’d rather they come out of this match wanting to prove more.

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