It’s Rugby World Cup year! Since 2007, it seems as though 2011 has been a long time coming, but it’s finally here and we can start getting (or continue to get) excited about the Rugby World Cup.
Having decided not to go to New Zealand back in October, convincing myself that it would be easier to cover events from London, I saw the video below and then promptly booked in for a 7-week campervan tour with Thomas Cook. Check it out and tell me that you aren’t buzzing with excitement:
Keep an eye out for yours truly making a guest appearance in the clip (it’s at 2m36 to be precise, celebrating in France after Jonny has slotted a dropped goal).
The result of that promotional video is that I’ll be heading to New Zealand for a 7-week tour, starting in Christchurch, then on to Dunedin and Queenstown, back towards Christchurch and then up through Wellington and the North Island to Auckland.
Having previously told myself it wouldn’t be worth the trip, I’m now utterly convinced that it will be. When the World Cup was in France, it was just one of a number of events going on, and that will be the case in England 2015. In New Zealand, everything will stop for the rugby – nothing else will be happening and it will be the most incredible party the rugby world has ever seen.
And the chances are, they won’t see it again. Commercial demands mean that New Zealand is unlikely to host the tournament in the future, as larger, more profitable unions are awarded the privilege. The Kiwis will be sure to make it a monumental celebration of the best sport on earth as a result!
It seems I’m not the only one to realise this. Two thirds of the tickets have already been sold – some individual match tickets are still available via www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets, and there will be a few more released in the summer – but generally, the only way to get tickets is via the Official Travel Agents.
Moreover, out of the 85,000 rugby supporters already booked from outside New Zealand, 20,000 will be fans from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. That’s nearly a quarter, and a recipe for a very good time.
I’ve booked through Thomas Cook as they offer flexible packages, with tailor-made itineraries depending on what you want to do, where you want to be and which games you’d like to go to. Having booked our trip, they’ve also offered us a discount code to pass onto others – just enter TRB in the relevant field at checkout – and if you do use it, you’ll also generate some goodwill and hopefully they’ll sponsor The Rugby Blog in the future.
To make the party even bigger, huge fan zones are being created in each of the major venues, with special camper van parks and various special events. Here’s an update from the horse’s mouth:
Auckland will create the ultimate festival of Rugby atmosphere with an exciting programme of events beginning well before the starting whistle. From massive fan zones and live match screenings right across the city to ‘grass roots’ gatherings of supporters and players at provincial clubs. In a prime location at the heart of Auckland’s waterfront, the newly constructed Queen’s Wharf Fan Zone will be open every day of RWC 2011 and, along with the newly constructed Eden Park, will act as the focal point for Auckland’s spectacular opening night celebrations on 9 September 2011. With a 20,000 capacity, Queen’s Wharf will have an entertainment line-up that includes live match screenings, family activities and showcases of New Zealand’s best arts, food, wine and culture.
Wellington’s Fan Zone promises a cultural experience that is uniquely New Zealand with the construction of a rugby village centred around the Wharewaka (canoe house) being built near the national museum – Te Papa – on the city’s waterfront. The building is scheduled for completion this month and the Rugby Village base will be its first incarnation. Visitors will be offered a range of cultural activities including carvings, performances and an interactive history display.
Cathedral Square in the centre of the city will be Christchurch’s official Fan Zone for the duration of the tournament. The area will feature something for everyone from die-hard fans to those who just want to soak up the atmosphere; incorporating a mini rugby ground, big screens for viewing the games, stands for the fans and the ‘World Ruck’ dome. As well as information about the tournament, the ‘World Ruck’ venue will be used to tell the story of rugby in Canterbury – the historic home of New Zealand rugby.
What to do in between matches
New Zealand will be throwing a nationwide festival to celebrate the RWC 2011 for the duration of the Tournament called the Real New Zealand festival (www.realnzfestival.com). The organisation responsible says that this will be the biggest party the country has ever seen featuring more than 1,000 events across the country. Expect loads of events and parties specifically celebrating the RWC, laid on to entertain the anticipated surge of visitors and to complement the match and team hosting schedule.
For visitors heading to New Zealand during the RWC 2011, Tourism New Zealand has put together some ideas for what to do when the rugby stops – for those who’ve had enough and those who just can’t get enough. For further information go to www.newzealand.com/rugby.
I couldn’t be more excited about the whole thing – it’s going to be huge! Who is going to be out there?