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.’’
Before the official declaration and with computer-generated images projected on the stadium surface, a superbly choreographed pageant portrayed the spirit of rugby and the Rugby World Cup - past, present and future - to a television audience estimated worldwide to be in the millions.
With a cast of 1,000 made up of volunteers from the rugby-playing nations, the story that led to 20 teams from around the globe arriving in New Zealand to do battle at the seventh Rugby World Cup was told.
First came the call, then the journey, the place of battle and finally the Webb Ellis Cup, the prize sought by 20 nations at RWC 2011.
During the performance, images of rugby history were projected in the stadium, including a huge roll of honour 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 massive, intense 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 thrilling end.
New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, then expressed the excitement his country felt at hosting the Rugby World Cup for a second time before Mr Lapasset declared RWC 2011 open.
‘’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 honour and privilege to declare Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand officially open.’’
Rugby News Service