Friday, September 9, 2011
No more sleeps; it's game on!
Almost six years from the time that New Zealand was awarded hosting rights for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the start of the tournament has finally arrived. There's certainly been a huge upswing in RWC fever this week, even in places like Wanganui where no matches will be played.
This is without doubt the biggest event that New Zealand has ever hosted. It doesn't come cheaply, and it's highly likely that this will be the last time that a country of New Zealand's size will be awarded the tournament. We've just heard a police spokesperson quoted on the radio as saying that this is the biggest operation ever undertaken by the NZ Police, and we wouldn't dispute that.
It was a masterstroke, in our ever-humble opinion, to appoint Martin Snedden as CEO of Rugby World Cup Limited. Snedden was an outstanding CEO of NZ Cricket, and has brought those same skills to RWC2011. Ticket sales are closing in on the $250m mark, and rapidly closing on the $268m target set some time ago. Only three matches are sell-outs at this stage; two All Black pool matches (including the one we're going to in Wellington) and the final, but many more are close. Less than a thousand tickets remain for tonight's match at Eden Park, and Newstalk ZB's Dunedin reporter said a few minutes ago that only "a couple of hundred" tickets remain unsold for England versus Argentina tomorrow night at the new Forsyth Barr Stadium; we're probably not allowed to call it that, but what the heck! Snedden and his team have done an outstanding job in marketing the tournament, and we hope that his service is recognised in due course.
When the tournament is over, there are bound to be some areas that are criticised; that's pretty much inevitable. For now thugh, let's just focus on the veritable feast of rugby that awaits us over the next six weeks, and the buzz that is quickly spreading around the country. We have vivid memories of the 1987 RWC, including going to the final, but this tournament is going to be light years better. We'll be covering it here at Keeping Stock; of that you can be assured!
It's now just fourteen hours and ten minutes until kick-off tonight at Eden Park; bring it on!