World Rugby and Rugby World Cup organisers have apologised to fans after the chaotic scenes outside the Stade de Marseille ahead of England v Argentina on Saturday.
Thousands of fans missed the start of the Pool D opener due to a lack of entry points and turnstiles, insufficient staffing levels and extensive security checks.
Fans miss the start of England v Argentina
While there were no incidents and all 63,118 seats were eventually taken, many supporters were concerned for their safety amid the potential for the situation to escalate.
“Fans are the heartbeat of the tournament, and we would like to apologise to fans impacted by yesterday’s access challenges,” a World Rugby statement read.
“We are working hard to enhance the experience for all visiting Marseille for Rugby World Cup 2023.”
South Africa and Scotland clash at the same venue on September 10 in the second match of Pool B.
Organisers stated that there will now be more service volunteers in place to assist with entry as well as increased announcements on public transport, including in English.
Other measures will also be taken to avoid a repeat of the scenes ahead of England’s 27-10 victory over Argentina.
As mentioned above, there were no reports of incidents; however, many supporters feared the consequences if the crushes intensified.
Times Sport reporter Will Kelleher posted this clip ahead of the match with the caption: “This is the scene outside the Stade Vélodrome as thousands of fans try to make kick-off. Looks absolutely horrendous.”
This is the scene outside the Stade Vélodrome as thousands of fans try to make kick off. Looks absolutely horrendous.
— Will Kelleher (@willgkelleher) September 9, 2023
“When we got out of the station at the stadium, there was an overwhelming number of people as there are just two entry points,” said England supporter Tim Chamberlain.
“It felt like there were just not enough turnstiles and not enough people working. We stood in the melee for 45 minutes, and it was really hot.
“You could see when we got in that it was potentially dangerous, and there were occasional crowd surges, which were worrying, but people were generally pretty respectful.”