Friday, 9 September 2011

Rugby World Cup opens in New Zealand

The Rugby World Cup has officially opened in New Zealand, described by Prime Minister John Key as the biggest event his country has staged.
An estimated 100,000 rugby fans descended on Auckland for the opening ceremony that included a waterfront firework display and mass Haka dance.
The first match between the All Blacks and Tonga then kicked off at Eden Park.
Matches will be held at stadia across the country except in Christchurch, devastated by the 22 February quake.
The natural disaster killed 181 people and large parts of the city have been written off as uninhabitable.
Christchurch, the most famous of all rugby cities in New Zealand, subsequently lost its rights to host seven World Cup matches.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown welcomed "the world" to Auckland during his speech at the opening ceremony.
He gave a "big shout out to our brothers in Christchurch" and said "this is for you".
The International Rugby Board has launched a fundraising appeal to bolster the rugby community in the area.
"The people in Christchurch are going to be in our hearts and our minds on many occasions during the tournament," said organising committee chairman Martin Snedden.
"It's been a tough 12 months in New Zealand. The country is ready to have fun. It's ready to have a party."
The six-week World Cup event is the first in New Zealand since the inaugural tournament in 1987 - the last time the All Blacks won the title.
New Zealand and Tonga kicked off the 48-match tournament at Eden Park in Auckland.
The 60,000-strong crowd was transfixed as about 10 silver boats, on wheels, entered the pitch, supported by hundreds of dancers dressed in silver and white.
The theme of the opening ceremony is "the journey", with the boats representing the settlement of New Zealand.
Maori warriors then took to the field, performing a powerful haka.
Tonga won a toss of the coin to perform their war dance, known as the sipi tau, first. The All Blacks then started their world-famous Haka before the match got under way.

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