Protesters are angry that oil giants TotalEnergies are given prominence in stadium advertising as 2023 Rugby World Cup sponsors ©Getty Images

Activists from the Extinction Rebellion group have spread oil across the entrance of the French Rugby Federation (FFR) to protest against the sponsorship of the 2023 Rugby World Cup by petroleum company TotalEnergies.

It is reported that around ten protesters from the Ile de France branch of Extinction Rebellion had been involved in the action.

The group claimed it would "denounce the financial support of TotalEnergies, one of the main sponsors of the Rugby World Cup, which is trying to improve its image by exhibiting it in the stadiums".

The pathway outside FFR headquarters at Marcoussis (Essonne), some 25 kilometres from Paris, was covered in oil in which the group placed rugby balls.

"Totally guilty, deceitful polluter, you are going to have a bad time," protesters shouted.

They waved flares and chanted "Total coupable" (Totally guilty) as they made their protest before the quarter-final tie between France and South Africa.

TotalEnergies was confirmed last year as an official sponsor of the Rugby World Cup 2023.

TotalEnergies was confirmed as a Rugby World Cup sponsor last year ©TotalEnergies
TotalEnergies was confirmed as a Rugby World Cup sponsor last year ©TotalEnergies

"As an official sponsor of the Rugby World Cup France 2023, TotalEnergies shares several common values with rugby, including the strength of the team and a taste for performance," the company claimed.

In a statement to Agence France Presse about the protests, TotalEnergies insisted it "fully respects the right to demonstrate and freedom of expression, but deplores any form of violence, whether it be verbal, physical or material.

"It is false to claim that TotalEnergies is greenwashing by sponsoring the France 2023 Rugby World Cup. 

"TotalEnergies has a long tradition of partnership with rugby."

Before the tournament began, environmental group Greenpeace produced a short film entitled, "Total Pollution - A Dirty Game"  to highlight the amount of oil produced.

Last month, Extinction Rebellion claimed responsibility for a protest at the US Open Tennis semi-final which delayed Coco Gauff's victory over Karolína Muchová by 50 minutes.

The group also joined a march to protest against the construction of a new sliding track for the Milan Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics.

Earlier in the year, activists from the Just Stop Oil group had staged protests at the Rugby Premiership Final at Twickenham.

They also interrupted play at Wimbledon and the first day of the England versus Australia Test match at Lord's Cricket Ground in London.