World Cup organisers have apologised to fans caught up in the chaotic scenes outside the Stade Velodrome before England’s match against Argentina on Saturday night.
Thousands of ticket holders missed the start of the Pool D opener because of the limited number of entry points and turnstiles, insufficient staffing levels and extensive security checks.
The weight of numbers led to crushes outside the ground and while France 2023 announced 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 statement read.
“We are working hard to enhance the experience for all visiting Marseille for Rugby World Cup 2023.”
Organisers have stated 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 are also being taken to sure there is not a repeat of the scenes that took place before England beat Argentina 27-10 in the opening match of Pool D, which was staged in a hot and humid Marseille.
Although the crowds were well behaved and the atmosphere respectful, many supporters feared the consequences if the crushes intensified.
“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, who was attending his fifth World Cup.
“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.”
Supporters seemingly had little trouble accessing the Velodrome ahead of Scotland’s Pool B opener against South Africa on Sunday afternoon.