Hundreds of supporters were forced to miss the start of England’s defiant victory over Argentina after being caught up in lengthy queues amid chaotic scenes in Marseille.
With less than half an hour to go before kick-off – 9pm local time – thousands of supporters could be seen bunched behind one of the two entry gates with World Rugby on Saturday night investigating the issue.
One supporter told the Observer of having their tickets checked twice and bemoaned an absence of policing and assistance from stewards with some forced to queue for more than an hour before they could take their seats.
As a result, hundreds of supporters missed the dramatic opening to the match in which the England flanker Tom Curry was sent to the sin-bin inside the first three minutes, before being shown a red card via the bunker review system.
It is understood that part of the problem is considered to be that too many supporters chose the same entry gate. There were reports of similar disruption before Ireland’s comfortable victory over Romania earlier in the day in Bordeaux with World Cup organisers under pressure to ensure it does not become a regular problem that mars the tournament.
“We are aware of delays experienced by fans entering [the stadium] for the match between England and Argentina this evening,” read a statement from the governing body. “While fans were able to take their seats, fan experience is paramount, and we are working with all stakeholders to establish the facts and implement measures to prevent such delays for the remaining Rugby World Cup 2023 matches at the venue.”
It was only last year that French authorities came in for enormous criticism for the manner in which supporters were treated during the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris. One supporter described the chaos as a “dangerous crush” while another said it was “scary” with the entrance gate situated at the top of a stone staircase, raising concerns over supporters falling back into the crowd.