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Rugby World Cup 2007, France By Mike Bowditch

The International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced the kick-off times for the 48 matches of Rugby World Cup 2007 to be played in France in September and October. Host nation France will kick-off the sixth Rugby World Cup Tournament against Argentina at the Stade de France Stadium in Paris at 9pm local time on Friday, September 7, while England will begin its defence of the Webb Ellis Cup against the USA in Lens the following day with the match kicking- off at 6pm local time.
The next Rugby World Cup will be hosted in France from 7 September to 20 October 2007. The games will be held at several venues in France (Lens, Montpellier, St-Etienne, Montpellier, St-Denis, Nantes, Lyon, Bordeaux, Paris, Toulouse and Marseilles). Some of the key pool matches will be played in Cardiff (Wales) and in Edinburgh (Scotland).
Toulouse, in the Aude, Languedoc, is one of rugby’s major epicentres. The Stade Toulousain team, which has provided a good many international players down the years, has been champion of France 17 times and went down in the history of the sport by becoming the first European clubs champion in 1996, a title that it won again in 2003.
Students began playing rugby locally in 1890 and it was in 1907 that Stade Toulousain was established. It won the first French championship title two years later, in 1909.
Have a look at the French team.
Colours: Blue, white and red?Nicknames: Les Bleus, Les Tricolores?Honours: Six Nations Grand Slam (2004, 2002), Five Nations Grand Slam (1968, 1977, 1981, 1987, 1997, 1998), World Cup runners-up (1987, 1999).
Coach: Studious Bernard Laporte has endured a see-saw existence since taken the reigns prior to the 1999 Rugby World Cup. World Cup finalists to fifth in the Six Nations, Grand Slam champions to losing a Test series to Argentina. Laporte has brought discipline and organisation to a traditionally volatile and flamboyant side, but has had trouble trying to mix the perfect cocktail time after time. Captain: Back in the captaincy saddle after the retirement of Fabien Galthié, Toulouse star Fabien Pelous is no stranger to leadership. A star performer in the second row or the back of the scrum, his presence in the French side is sometimes taken for granted.
Player(s) to watch: Toulouse centre Florian Fritz won both 2005 Player of the Year and 2005 Newcomer of the Year awards at the French 'Night of Rugby' in December 2005, and was first choice to partner Yannick Jauzion in both of November 2005's high-profile Tests against Australia and South Africa. He is also Jauzion's partner in the Toulouse centres as well, and Toulouse's back-line creativity needs little embellishment.
Have a look at the current French Squad: ( Jan 2007)
Backs: Jean-Baptiste Elissalde (Toulouse), Pierre Mignoni (Clermont), Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz), Benjamin Boyet (Bourgoin), David Skrela (Stade Français), Damien Traille (Biarritz), Romain Cabannes (Biarritz), Florian Fritz (Toulouse), Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), David Marty (Perpignan), Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), Christophe Dominici (Stade Français), Cédric Heymans (Toulouse), Aurélien Rougerie (Clermont), Thomas Castaignède (Saracens/ENG), Anthony Floch (Clermont), Clément Poitrenaud (Toulouse)?
?Forwards: Pieter de Villiers (Stade Français), Laurent Emmanuelli (Clermont), Sylvain Marconnet (Stade Français), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Olivier Milloud (Bourgoin), Jean-Baptiste Poux (Toulouse), Benoît August (Biarritz), Sébastien Bruno (Sale/ENG), Raphaël Ibañez (Wasps/ENG), Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Français), Grégory Lamboley (Toulouse), Lionel Nallet (Castres), Pascal Papé (Castres), Fabien Pelous (Toulouse), Jerome Thion (Biarritz), Serge Betsen (Biarritz), Julien Bonnaire (Bourgoin), Sébastien Chabal (Sale/ENG), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz), Rémy Martin (Stade Français), Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse), Elvis Vermeulen (Clermont)
The south of France features very strongly- with well over halfing the region, and the majority of thoseing from the Languedoc.
France is looking very strong to win in the RWC in 2007.
Tickets can be bought ahead of the match- mostly from Carrefour as well as many good web sites.
A very keen rugby supporter, the author moved from London after 15 years to live in the Languedoc, France region - the centre of rugby.
For further information, look at => languedocpropertysale languedocpropertysale
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