RUGBY WORLD CUP: Spectacular Eden Park Opening Ceremony set to kick-off Tournament

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Tournament Organisers for Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011) today unveiled some key elements of the Opening Ceremony which will kick-off the seventh Rugby World Cup at 7.30pm (NZT) on Friday, September 9, including a key role for a New Zealand sports star.

“In one week’s time, the world will be watching us as the seventh Rugby World Cup gets underway,” said Martin Snedden, CEO for Tournament Organiser Rugby New Zealand 2011.

“We promise all fans, at Eden Park, and those watching from afar, a night to remember.

“It is the perfect double bill – a spectacular Opening Ceremony, the likes of which New Zealand sports fans will not have experienced in this country, coupled with two great Pacific nations kicking off Rugby’s showpiece Tournament.”

Host nation New Zealand plays Tonga in the opening match which starts at 8.30pm (NZT).

Unique flavour

Mr Snedden said the Opening Ceremony signals the official start of the Tournament and is the first opportunity for Kiwi fans to see some dazzling video projection technology not seen on such a scale before in New Zealand.

The 30 minute ceremony will tell the story of New Zealand and its unique place in the Pacific and represent the coming together of countries from around the world in New Zealand in pursuit of Rugby’s greatest prize.

A New Zealand sporting legend will also have a special role, but Tournament Organisers say exactly who and what they will do is being kept under wraps.

“Rest assured he or she will play a pivotal role in the ceremony.

“There will also be special recognition of Christchurch, which lost its role as a host city for RWC 2011 following February’s tragic earthquake.

“As well, there will be a unique interpretation of the official Tournament song World in Union featuring the combined talents of over 400 singers, in a performance that will have a special Pacific flavour.

“The performance will sum up the cosmopolitan character of our young nation with singers of Maori, Pakeha, Samoan, Fijian, Cook Island, Niuean, Tongan, Tokelauan, Australian, Chinese, Korean, English, Irish, Danish, American, Canadian, Dutch, South African and Indian descent.

“The ceremony will be a powerful tribute to New Zealand’s creative skills. Some of our finest talent have been working hard to show the world why we are such a skilled and innovative country so this is their chance to shine on the world stage. We have drawn on many of our best choreographers, costume designers, set builders, musicians and many others, plus a cast of 1000 volunteer performers who have given up their time to be part of this amazing show.

“The ceremony has also been masterminded by one of the world’s best live event companies, David Atkins Enterprises (DAE), which has staged many other spectacular opening events such as the Vancouver Winter Olympics and Sydney Olympic Games so fans are in for a special night.

“DAE have assembled an amazing team of New Zealand creative talent who have given the ceremony a uniquely Kiwi feel.”

Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset, who arrived in Auckland on Wednesday, expects the Opening Ceremony to be the most exciting and spectacular in the history of Rugby World Cup.

“Fans attending the Opening Match and the millions around the world watching on television are going to be in for a real treat.

“The ceremony will be a celebration of New Zealand and its rich cultural and Rugby heritage, the history of the Game and the values that binds it together. It promises to be spectacular and I can’t wait to see it.

“There is no doubt that it will set the tone for what will be a very special and successful Rugby World Cup.”

Get there early

Broadcasters Petra Bagust and Jeremy Corbett will welcome fans to the stadium from 7pm and plan a few tricks of their own to entertain the crowd.

“We don’t want fans to miss any of the action so our best advice is get there by 7pm because the show will start at 7.30pm sharp,” said Mr Snedden.

“With an international television audience estimated at over 50 million everything needs to run to a tight schedule. We want the perfect start to this Tournament so we urge Kiwi fans to do their bit when the world switches on to watch New Zealand’s big night and don’t delay getting to Eden Park.”

The good news for fans who have yet to purchase is that 4,000 tickets are still available. Tickets can be purchased online at and at selected Ticketek outlets.


The RWC 2011 Opening Ceremony – some facts

Start time: 7.30pm Friday 9 September
Pre-show start time: 7.00pm
Duration: 30 minutes
1,000 performers
200 back stage production crew
200 back stage support volunteers
400 performers to sing World in Union
8,000 blades of flax harvested and 9.5kms of silk to be used in costumes
During rehearsals, performers and crew consumed:
13,122 muesli bars
5,740 litres of water
5,636 hot drinks

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