From 9 September to 23 October the 2011 Rugby World Cup will be contested in New Zealand, with twenty countries from around the world vying for the coveted Webb Ellis Cup. Although many people may not know or understand the sport, for those of us who know which is the truly beautiful game it is more than enough reason to travel to far New Zealand. Here is a brief guide to the 2011 tournament for those lucky enough to the travelling to see the games or who will just be watching from home.
The Rugby World Cup is quite a young tournament, with the first being played in the summer of 1987. Taking place every four years the competition is now the third largest sporting event in the world after the Olympics and football world cup. The 2007 competition was noted for having the most countries apply to take part and for a string of surprises that saw several major contenders for the prize knocked out at quite early stages.
The fearsome New Zealand rugby team, known as the All Blacks, will be looking to stamp their mark on this competition both because of their home advantage and to erase the painful memory of being knocked out by France back in 2007. Meanwhile England, who won in 2003, will be hoping they can triumph again after losing to South Africa in the 2007 final.
In addition to the behemoths of world rugby there are some countries competing this year for whom international rugby is a relatively new phenomenon. Russia and Romania particularly will be hoping to make their mark on the competition both as matters of national pride and as a way of stimulating domestic interest in the sport which is considered to have great potential in both countries. Such additions to the competition speak to the widening appeal of a sport that has traditionally been confined to former parts of the British Empire.
The tournament matches are to be played in locations all over New Zealand so fans following a specific team are advised to pay special attention to the schedule and plan as much ahead as possible. The popularity of rugby in New Zealand is such that the atmosphere during the competition is expected to be electric and good natured, a huge variety of events and activities have been scheduled to run alongside the world cup making the entire country feel like one big carnival.
There are still tickets available for the pool matches of the tournament, although visitors planning to see a match who do not yet have tickets are advised to buy them as soon as possible. While some matches will have tickets available on the gate, many will not and especially any matches involving the big teams hoping to take the prize.
Hotel in New Zeland
Golden Lodge-Nelson City
Appartamento Vacanze Boutique Motel
Comfort Hotel Wellington