Following the opening weekend of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France in Paris, the organisers made two interesting statements: firstly, they recognised the logistical issues both outside and inside stadia in Marseille and Bordeaux and vowed there would be no repeat; and, secondly, the issues surrounding the rendition of some of the national anthems would be remedied but that the children's choirs would be retained.

Another issue had been hotly debated, including in social media, was the apparent inconsistencies in dangerous play and the handing out of red or yellow cards, or none at all, with England's Tom Curry receiving a two-match suspension after a disciplinary hearing following his read card early on in their match against Argentina.

Nevertheless, there was almost universal praise for attractive rugby being played in a good atmosphere across the various French cities.

Group A:

On Thursday evening, France, following their opening day 27-13 win over heavyweights New Zealand, were playing their second match of the tournament, against South Americans Uruguay, in Lille. Even though France went ahead in the fourth minute thanks to a penalty by Jaminet, it was Namibia who brought the fight to the home favourites and scored the first try of the game just a couple of minutes later thanks to Nicolas Freitas. Antoine Hastoy scored France's first try on the twelfth minute and the home side led 13-5 at half-time. After the break, Baltazar Amaya scored Uruguay's second try; with the conversion, they trailed by just a single point in what had become a hugely entertaining game. Peato Mauvaka and Louis Bielle-Biarrey touched down for France who then had to defend to a very spirited Uruguayan attack. In the end, France won 27-12, an almost identical score to their opening day win over the All Blacks. For the second game in succession, they had failed to get a bonus point (awarded when scoring four tries) - would this come back to haunt them in the final group table?

On Friday evening, New Zealand - who had lost their opening match against France - were up against minnows Namibia who had been over-run 52-8 by Italy in their opening game, in Toulouse. Cam Roigard touched down for New Zealand in the second minute and he also added their second in the eighth minute to set a worrying start for the African nation. New Zealand touched down again in the 16th minute; however, it was ruled out due to an infringement in the line-out. With just a quarter of the match played, Namibia's inside centre, JC Greyling, had to leave the field due to what looked like a serious leg injury, to be replaced by Le Roux Malan. After 25 minutes, New Zealand had added two more tries through Damian McKenzie and Leicester Fainga'anuku, with Anton Lienert-Brown and Damian McKenzie (#2) also touching down to give New Zealand a 36-3 half-time lead. Namibia was under huge pressure in the scrum, and their line-out was malfunctioning, but it took New Zealand until the 48th minute in the second half to increase their lead thanks to substitute Ethan de Groot who had been on the pitch less than a minute. Five minutes later New Zealand added their eighth try through Dalton Papali'i to reach the half-century in points. David Havili and Caleb Clarke added two more before the All Blacks lost Ethan de Groot to a red card for a dangerous tackle with eight minutes left. However, New Zealand were not yet finished and Rieko Ioane scored their eleventh try to leave the final score at 71-3.

Group B:

Saturday's third game saw the #1 ranked side in the world, Ireland, who had a crushing win over Romania in their first game, up against Tonga (playing in their first game in the tournament) in Nantes. Johnny Sexton got Ireland's first point of the game after six minutes by slotting a penalty kick between the posts. Ireland's set piece was functioning well, but they were committing too many players to the breakdown. Tonga equalised with a long-range penalty on sixteen minutes; however, Andrew Porter thought he had scored Ireland's first try just a minute late, only for the referee to rule it out for an infringement in the lead up to the grounding. They only had to wait another four minutes for Tadgh Beirne to get a legitimate touch down for Ireland to go into a seven-point lead. Tonga kept up the pressure, though, with a second long-range penalty by out-half William Havili. After conceding a penalty in Ireland's 22, they suddenly found themselves conceding a try after a push-over scrum, Caelen Doris claiming the try for a 17-6 lead after 27 minutes. And five minutes later, Ireland threatened again, this time spreading the ball out wide to the right, with Mack Hansen dancing around a number of Tongan defenders to touch down for Ireland's third try of the match. And their fourth, and a bonus point, was scored just a couple of minutes before half-time when Johnny Sexton finished off a Garry Ringrose break to become Ireland's all-time top points scorer, overtaking Ronan O'Gara's record. Tonga moved the ball up the pitch and put the Irish defence under pressure, resulting in Ireland's Peter O'Mahony being yellow-carded for repeated infringements at the breakdown when the clock was in the red. Tonga eventually broke the determined Irish defence when Vaea Fifita touched down to leave the half-time score at 31-13 for Ireland. At the resumption, both teams made their first substitutions, with Ireland pulling off three players including Johnny Sexton. Tonga clawed back three points from a penalty. Eleven minutes into the second half and substitute hooker Rob Herring thought that he had burrowed over for Ireland's fifth try, but the referee deemed that he had done so by a double movement. Suddenly the game opened up with players from both sides running into space. On 58 minutes, James Lowe crossed over to get Ireland off the mark in the second half, shortly followed by Bundee Aki who sliced through Tonga's defence twice in five minutes. Ireland continued to press and Rob Herring got his try in the dying seconds. FT 59-16 to Ireland who have scored 20 tries in their two opening games.

Sunday's first game saw South Africa (18-3 winners over Scotland in the opening weekend) up against Romania, beaten heavily by Ireland in their first game, in Bordeaux. This match saw the first shut-out of the tournament when Romania failed to score against the Spingboks who man in eleven tries, plus were awarded a penalty try, without reply for a facile 76-0 win. The try scorers included Cobus Reinach (3), Makazole Mapimpi (3), Damian Willemse (3), Deon Fourie, Grant Williams (2) and Willie Le Roux.

Group C:

Saturday's second game saw Wales (who run run very close by Fiji in their opening game) up against Portugal (playing in their first game in the tournament) in Nice. Wales were expected to rack up a big score against the first-timers at the Rugby World Cup. Their first score came on nine minutes when Louis Rees-Zammit touched down for a try, which Leigh Halfpenny converted for a 7-0 lead. Like the earlier game between Samoa and Chile, it was a low-key and sluggish affair with both teams making mistakes and not really threatening. After 25 minutes, Wales were down to fourteen men for ten minutes when Johnny Williams was yellow-carded for an illegal action in a ruck on a Portugal attack. Portugal were playing the more attractive rugby and earned a couple of 50-22s, and narrowly missed a drop-goal attempt. But they did get their first points just before half-time when scrum-half Samuel Marques slotted home a penalty to narrow the gap to 7-3 to Wales. But the Welsh were back to fifteen men and Johnny Williams went over for their second try with the last play of the first half to lead 14-3 at half-time. In the second half, the crowd had to wait for fifteen minutes for the scoreboard to change, with Wales' Jac Morgan crossing over from close range. Portugal were running the ball, comfortable in possession and stealing Wales' line-outs. They then scored their first RWC try off a brilliantly-executed line-out move on 63 minutes when Nicolas Martins touched down. With just five minutes remaining, Wales thought that they had scored their fourth try, which would have earned them a bonus point, only for the score to be ruled out for an infringement earlier in the move that had seen Louis Rees-Zammit dance through Portugal's defence. Portugal were then down to fourteen men for the last three minutes when Vincent Pinto was yellow-carded (upgraded to a red card upon review) when the referee adjudged his foot to be in an unnatural, and dangerous, position when making contact with a Welsh player's head when jumping to catch a high ball. In the last play of the game, Wales had the put-in to a scrum on Portugal's five-metre line and Taulupe Faletau dived over for Wales' fourth try and bonus point. FT 28-8 to Wales.

Sunday's second game saw arguably the most awaited match of the weekend, Australia (who had a solid win over Georgia in their first match) up against Fiji (who many say should have been awarded a late try against Wales in their first game, which could have changed the result) in Saint-Étienne. The game delivered in spades, with Australia taking the lead through Ben Donaldson who landed a penalty after just three minutes. Fiji's scrum-half Simione Kuruvoli landed two penalties, first to draw level and then to take the lead, 6-3, after 21 minutes. Australia hit back immediately through Mark Nawaqanitawase who scored a try from a quickly-taken line-out throw. With the conversion missed, Australia led 8-6, but they were conceding a number of penalties to the Pacific Islanders. Simione Kuruvoli converted two of them for Fiji to lead 8-12 at HT. It took Fiji just two minutes of the second half: the Australia defence went awol under a high ball, with Josua Tuisova collecting and running clear to touch down and extend Fiji's lead to 8-19. Fiji continued what they were doing at the start of the match, attacking Australia's wide areas, and missed another opportunity when gaining momentum and passing the ball wide. Australia were slow to the break-down and made a number of substitutions on 56 minutes as Fiji were on top in almost every area. However, they did start to concede penalties for high tackles, but Australia could not take advantage. With just fifteen minutes left on the clock, Frank Lomani kicked Fiji's fourth penalty of the day to stretch Fiji's lead to 14 points. But Australia hit back almost immediately and got a lifeline back into the game when Suli Vunivalu touched down from a close-range maul to reduce the scoreline deficit to seven points at 15-22. The crowd were on their feet when Australia surged forward again, with most neutrals shouting for Fiji, in a cauldron of noise. Fiji were being awarded more penalties but they were starting to struggle for both territory and possession. Into the last minute of the game and Fiji won a line-out, but they knocked-on so Australia had possession with the clock now in the red... High drama indeed. Scrum to Australia, but Fiji pushed them back and were awarded a penalty. Instead of settling for the win, Fiji decided to kick the ball for the penalty to deny Australia a losing point. But the kick was wide... Nevertheless, Fiji beat Australia (for the first time since 1954) 15-22.

Group D:

Saturday's first game saw Samoa - playing their first match in the tournament - up against Chile - who had lost to Japan in their opening game - in Bordeaux. While Christian Leali'ifano put the Pacific Islanders ahead with a penalty after three minutes, and another one on ten minutes, it was Chile who got the first try of the game, with Matias Dittus touching town in the 6th minute shortly after Ulupano Junior Seuteni was yellow-carded for Samoa for a dangerous tackle. Christian Leali'ifano put Samoa back in front 9-7, with his third penalty within the first quarter of an hour. In what was a relatively scrappy half, the temperatures were an energy-sapping 32C; however, the Samoans were using their weight and Chile were relying on a rush defence to good effect. Chile re-took the lead on the half-hour when Matias Garafulic kicked a penalty for the South Americans to lead by a slender point. However, the lead changed for the fourth time in the half when Samoa succeeded with their fourth penalty. But they eventually crossed for their first try of the game in the last play of the first half when Duncan Paia'aua finished off a flowing move which started off in their own half, for Samoa to take a 19-10 half-time lead. Samoa came out of the blocks flying for the start of the second half which saw three tries in the first twelve minutes thanks to Jonathan Taumateine, Fritz Lee and Sama Malolo, without reply from Chile. Chile's Alfonso Escobar and then Samoa's Ereatara Enari both picked up yellow cards in quick succession, but by that stage Samoa had a comfortable 36-10 lead with just under a quarter of the match to play. Almost ten minutes later, Chile were down to thirteen men (just for one overlapping minute) when Esteban Inostroza also received a yellow card. The scrappy and rather underwhelming match ended with Sama Malolo crossing the whitewash again for Samoa in the last minute. FT 43-10 to Samoa who pick up a try scoring bonus point.

Sunday's final game saw England (who clicked into gear with a clinical win over Argentina last weekend) up against Japan (winners over tournament newcomers Chile last weekend) in Nice. Japan started nervously and England threatened the Japanese try line early on, only to settle for a penalty by George Ford in the third minute to start the scoreboard ticking over. On thirteen minutes, Japan broke through England's defensive line but forced a penalty from England's defence. 3-3. Japan's out-half Rikiya Matsuda charged down his opposite number's clearance kick to put England's defence under immense pressure; a couple of minutes he kicked another penalty to put Japan into the lead. However, England hit back immediately, capitalising on a poor Japanese line-out for Lewis Ludlam to touch down England's first try after 25 minutes. With George Ford converting, England re-took the lead, 10-6. Just five minutes later, Rikiya Matsuda narrowed the difference to just one pint when slotting over Japan's third penalty of the match. With the clock in the red at the end of the first half, England were awarded a penalty in the Japanese half; George Ford elected to kick and succeeded to slip the posts. HT England 13, Japan 9. The second half started with both England and Japan wanting to play expansive, attacking, running rugby, to the delight of the crowd. Unfortunately, both sides were making mistakes - the humid evening meant that the ball was greasy and was handling like a bar of soap. On 50 minutes, Japan was the first team to start emptying the bench, with England following just after. Three minutes later, Japan narrowed the gap again to just one point when Rikiya Matsuda converted another penalty following an English infringement. However, England's luck changed when the Japanese players appeared to stop after the ball bobbled in the air and Courtney Lawes touched down, only for the referee to adjudge that the ball had come off an English player's head and was therefore not a knock-on. 20-12 to England. The game really opened up, first with England finding space, then Japan dancing though England's defence. But the scoreboard remained the same until the 66th minute when full-back Freddie Steward caught a sublime cross-field ball from George Ford to touch down in the corner for England to score their third try and increase their lead to 15 points. With eight minutes to play, England put Japan's try-line defence under serious pressure, only to concede a penalty after a number of phases. With the clock just passing into the red, Joe Marchant finished of another attack and touched down for their fourth try and all-important bonus point. FT 34-12 to England.

Weekend Summary

In week one, the opening game in which France beat New Zealand was the most anticipated and, in many ways, it went according to how many people thought it would; however, France did not pay to their full potential. And neither did they when overcoming Uruguay in week 2; and neither did they record a try bonus point in either game. Are France still to reach their peak or have they stalled?

In week two, the most anticipated game was Australia against Fiji, with the Pacific Islanders withstanding a late Australia fightback to win the game. Ireland have now scored 20 tries in two games; however, they will face South Africa next weekend in arguably the most anticipated game of week three. The other game that everyone will keeping their eye on will be in Group C where Australia will play Wales.

Group A: France 27, Uruguay 12; New Zealand 71, Namibia 3 (France top the group on 8 points, with New Zealand in second on 5 points on points difference from Italy)
Group B: Ireland 59, Tonga 16 South Africa 76, Romania 0 (Ireland top the group on 10 points, with South Africa in second on 9 points)
Group C: Wales 28, Portugal 8; Australia 15, Fiji 22 (Wales top the group on 10 points, with Fiji in second on 6 points on points difference from Australia)
Group D: Samoa 43, Chile 10; England 34, Japan 12 (England top the group on 9 points, with Samoa in second on 5 points on points difference from Japan)