2011 Rugby World Cup up and running
September 9, 2011
IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset declares the 2011 Rugby World Cup open © Getty Images
The 2011 Rugby World Cup got underway after a spectacular opening ceremony at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.
After a 24-year wait, the tournament returned to New Zealand the hosts marked the occasion with an incredibly well choreographed show which featured Maori dancing, a stunning fireworks display and, much to the delight of the 60,000 fans in attendance, legendary All Blacks winger Johah Lomu.
After the arrival of the Webb Ellis Cup, International Rugby Board (IRB) Chairman Bernard Lapasset gave his introductory speech, starting out in Maori before then switching to English.
"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," the Frenchman stated.
Meanwhile, New Zealand's prime minister, John Key, then arrived on stage to officially launch the tournament.
''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.''
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker