The first day of the International Cup set off a flurry of excitement, with each match brimming with intensity, strategy and a burning desire to win. From almost one-sided displays to neck-and-neck duels, spectators saw the very best in international rugby.
World champions fall at the first attempt
The opening clash of the competition between Canada and Australia was a real thriller, ending in a spectacular 49-48 victory for Canada, thanks to a decisive try scored in the final seconds that tipped the balance. This tight duel, imbued with great intensity and determination, set the pace for the rest of the week. The competition promises to be both unpredictable and extremely exciting. The Steelers now have no margin for error if they are to qualify for the final four.
A vibrant opening ceremony to launch the tournament
The opening ceremony was a real spectacle for the spectators! The delegations paraded under a blazing arc of wreaths of fire and each nation was greeted by an electrified crowd, with the French team receiving a memorable standing ovation. After the speeches by the officials, a breakdance set the stage alight, before a banda set the Halle Carpentier alight with a real rugby atmosphere, on a par with the Jean-Dauger stadium in Bayonne.
After that, the hosts took on the United States, the world’s top-ranked team. The crowd was ready to support their team with unbridled fervour, and the first few minutes of the match bore witness to the intensity of this first day. The teams battled relentlessly, refusing to give an inch. The level of play was equal to the stakes, with each team fiercely determined to win. Every point scored by France was greeted by an explosion of cheers from the crowd, and although the Americans were favourites, the Tricolores gave them a tough time. The match ended with a 53-51 victory for the Eagles, but the French team was able to show its potential and talent against the leading team on the circuit.
Japan and Great Britain provide
The match between Great Britain and Denmark was a demonstration of strength. After a tight start and slight domination, Great Britain gradually extended their lead thanks to impenetrable defence and aggressive play. The Danish, however, did not give in easily, reducing an 8-point deficit to just 4. But the consistency of the British allowed them to win 55-49 in this battle of commitment.
Against New Zealand, Japan put on a display of strategic and athletic mastery. Forwards Ikezaki and Hashimoto excelled, breaking through the opposition’s defence with decisive systems. Despite the unwavering commitment of the Wheel Blacks, Japan’s dominance was undeniable, and they went on to claim their first victory, 52-36, which underlines their position as serious contenders for the title.
Thursday promises to be just as exciting, with Australia and France in particular having no margin for error.