Updated: October 3, 2011 17:16 IST

New Zealand sees record attendance for Rugby World Cup

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An animated South African fan during the ongoing Rugby World Cup, one of 1.1 million spectators who have watched the tournament at the many stadiums in New Zealand.
An animated South African fan during the ongoing Rugby World Cup, one of 1.1 million spectators who have watched the tournament at the many stadiums in New Zealand.

The 40 pool matches of the Rugby World Cup which wrapped up Sunday drew almost 1.1 million spectators to stadiums across New Zealand, the tournament organisers said Monday.

With the quarterfinals to take place this weekend, another 6.5 million New Zealand dollars ($5 million) worth of tickets had to be sold to meet the revenue target of 268.5 million New Zealand dollars ($204 million), said Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden.

The official attendance stood at 1.07 million, with almost 250, 000 people attending the final eight pool matches over the last weekend, Xinhua reported.

Snedden described the turnout as incredible.

“We are thrilled that so many fans in New Zealand have taken the chance to get a taste of the fun and excitement of the World Cup. Games have been full of great colour and passion from fans both local and overseas and that has added a fantastic flavour to every match.”

The total number of tickets for the tournament already sold was 1.34 million, pushing revenue to 262 million New Zealand dollars.

“This is an excellent place to be with eight major matches of the tournament yet to be completed,” said Snedden.

“I have no doubt we will reach our goal despite the major challenges we have faced, both with the tragic Christchurch earthquake and the difficult economic climate,” he said.

International Rugby Board chairman Bernard Lapasset said the strong attendance at all the venues was testament to the welcoming nature of New Zealanders.

“The way that New Zealanders the length and breadth of the country have embraced the tournament has been absolutely incredible,” said Lapasset.

“The atmosphere around the venues and host cities with New Zealanders and travelling international fans giving such vocal, passionate and colourful support to all of the teams will be an enduring memory for everyone who has experienced Rugby World Cup 2011.”

Strong interest was expected for the four quarter final knockout matches, said organisers.

On Saturday, Ireland will play Wales in Wellington, followed by France playing England in Auckland. On Sunday, South Africa will face off against Australia, before the home team takes on Argentina in Auckland.

A total of 26,000 tickets were still available for both the Auckland matches and fewer than 9,500 for the two Wellington matches.

Organisers have estimated that about 95,000 rugby fans from 100 countries would come to New Zealand for the tournament.

Before the mega event, the highest revenue—generating event in New Zealand history was the 2005 British and Irish Lions Tour, which grossed 24 million New Zealand dollars.

The Rugby World Cup, the third largest sports event in the world, first kicked off in 1987 and is held every four years.

A total broadcast audience of more than four billion people saw the 2007 tournament in France.

Keywords: Rugby World Cup

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