The 2011 Rugby World Cup is the seventh edition of the quadrennial international rugby union competition inaugurated in 1987. The International Rugby Board (IRB) chose New Zealand as the host country in preference to Japan and South Africa at a meeting in Dublin on 17 November 2005. The IRB Council eliminated South Africa in the first of two rounds of voting.
Rugby World Cup 2011 was officially opened in the middle of spectacular fireworks and parade in front of 60,000 fans at Eden Park.
An amazing choreographed pageant represented the spirit of rugby and the Rugby World Cup – past, present and future – to a television audience estimated worldwide to be in the millions.
The story that led to 20 teams from around the world coming to NZ to compete with each other at the 7th Rugby World Cup was told by a cast of 1000 volunteers from the rugby-playing nations.
During the show, pictures of rugby history were transmitted in the stadium, containing a huge roll of honor depicting the names of the highest scorers from each nation in their World Cup histories accompanied by a performance of the RWC anthem World in Union.
And, as always in anything that is rugby in New Zealand, it culminated in a huge, ardent and passionate haka, devised with the input of Maori throughout New Zealand and performed in tandem with the fireworks display to bring the ceremony to a exciting end.
John Key, New Zealand’s prime minister, expressed the enthusiasm his country felt at hosting the Rugby World Cup for a second time. Afterwards Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset welcomed the world to New Zealand in the language of the Maori before switching to English to declare:
‘’New Zealand has dreamed for 24 years of welcoming back the world’s greatest players to the world’s greatest rugby stage. Tonight that dream comes true.’’
‘’This great country and its wonderful people will be the most exceptional hosts of a tournament that New Zealanders and rugby fans alike will be proud of,’’ he said.
‘’It is my honor and privilege to declare Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand officially open.’’