Rugby fever grips Auckland as Eden Park readies for Word Cup

More than 30,000 fans are expected on Opening Day on October 8, 2022

British pop star Rita Ora will perform at Eden Park on October 9 (AF{ Photo by Valerie Macon)

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Wellington, September 30, 2022

A week out from the start of the Rugby World Cup, organisers are setting their sights on filling Eden Park for the first time in women’s sport.

Rugby World Cup fever is sweeping New Zealand with over 30,000 tickets purchased for the opening day on October 8, 2022, and sales are on track to set a new attendance record for a women’s Rugby World Cup match day.

The Rugby World Cup opening day is set to become the most attended women’s Rugby World Cup match day, surpassing RWC 2014 finals day which was recorded as a sell-out at the 20,000-capacity Stade Jean-Bouin stadium in France and RWC 2017 finals day which saw 17,115 watch the Black Ferns claim their fifth Rugby World Cup title.

Triple treat for fans

A stellar day of opening matches will see the triple-header at Eden Park headlined by British pop star Rita Ora who will perform two sets.

The 31-year-old singer will take centre stage at the conclusion of the second match of the day between Fiji and England in Pool C and will be back on stage at half-time of the final clash of the day when the Black Ferns face Australia in Pool A.

The tournament kicks off when South Africa plays France in their Pool C match.

“The wait is nearly over, the teams have arrived, and New Zealand is ready to get the party started,” World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said.

“With tickets selling fast and the opening match day at Eden Park set to be a special and record-breaking experience, fans should secure their place now to avoid disappointment,” he said.

Rugby World Cup 2021 is taking place in New Zealand from 8 October to 12 November, the first time the pinnacle event has been staged in the Southern Hemisphere.

It is the biggest global event in women’s 15s rugby and will be contested by the top 12 teams in the world at three-match venues – Eden Park, Waitākere Stadium and Northland Events Centre.

Records show the largest attendance to date for women’s sport in New Zealand was 16,162 for the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup final between the USA and North Korea at North Harbour Stadium.

The Football Ferns will be competing in the World Cup hosted by New Zealand and Australia in 2023 (Photosport)

Sports NZ Campaign

With two women’s World Cup matches and a world series on the horizon in Aotearoa, Sport NZ has launched a campaign to encourage more people to watch top-level women’s sports.

Research commissioned by Sport NZ shows awareness of female athletes is significantly lower than comparable male athletes, particularly in team sports.

The campaign is called ‘It’s Time.’

A study by Gemba Research suggests only one in three New Zealanders regularly watch women’s sports and more than half (53%) do not expect to engage in more in women’s sports over the next 12 months, whether that is watching on TV, attending matches, using social media or following the media coverage.

Sport NZ Chief Executive Raelene Castle said that there is a huge opportunity to increase the visibility of, and support for, New Zealand’s female athletes, particularly with the Rugby World Cup kicking off in October, the Fast5 Netball World Series in November and the Football World Cup heading to New Zealand next July.

“We need to build on the momentum from the Cricket World Cup earlier this year, and we believe the upcoming world cups here in Aotearoa will be a great platform to promote change in this space, but these events are just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

Women impress the world

“We are challenging New Zealanders to get behind it, whether that is going to matches, watching on TV, engaging on social media or reading or watching media coverage. All of these competitions provide an opportunity to raise the recognition and profile of our female athletes,” she said.

“Globally, women’s sport is stealing the headlines – particularly after the amazing scenes following England’s victory in Euro 2022 and the record-breaking crowd at Camp Nou when more than 91,000 people watched Barcelona play Real Madrid in the Champions League,” said Castle.

The above Report and pictures have been published under a special agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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