RWC opening ceremony revealed

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 10:55 02/09/2011

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The Rugby World Cup opening ceremony in Auckland will feature a special tribute to Christchurch as a mark of respect for this year's deadly earthquake and its affect on the tournament in New Zealand.

Tournament organisers today revealed details of next Friday night's ceremony at Eden Park, confirming a leading New Zealand sporting figure will be central to the event.

The 30-minute ceremony will tell the story of New Zealand and its unique place in the Pacific and represent the coming together of countries from around the world in New Zealand in pursuit of rugby's greatest prize.

A New Zealand sporting legend will also have a special role, but tournament organisers say are keeping the person's  identity under wraps.

"Rest assured he or she will play a pivotal role in the ceremony," said Martin Snedden, chief executive for Rugby New Zealand 2011.

"There will also be special recognition of Christchurch, which lost its role as a host city for RWC 2011 following February's tragic earthquake.

"As well, there will be a unique interpretation of the official tournament song World in Union featuring the combined talents of over 400 singers, in a performance that will have a special Pacific flavour.

"We promise all fans, at Eden Park, and those watching from afar, a night to remember.

"It is the perfect double bill - a spectacular Opening Ceremony, the likes of which New Zealand sports fans will not have experienced in this country, coupled with two great Pacific nations kicking off rugby's showpiece Tournament."

The All Blacks play Tonga in the first match with an 8.30pm kickoff.

The ceremony has also been masterminded by David Atkins Enterprises, which staged the opening ceremonies for the Vancouver Winter Olympics and Sydney Olympic Games.

They promise "some dazzling video projection technology not seen on such a scale before in New Zealand".

The party begins earlier in the day at Queens Wharf on the Auckland waterfront, where a $2.7 million extravaganza will herald the start of the tournament.

Music from Kiwi legends including Tim Finn and Dave Dobbyn begins around 4pm, and once it's dark, a 12-minute fireworks and light show will begin.

Auckland's harbour, waterfront, prominent central city landmarks and buildings will be lit up to a musical piece composed by legend Don McGlashan.

OPENING CEREMONY FACTS

- Start time: 7.30pm Friday 9 September

- Pre-show start time: 7.00pm

- Duration: 30 minutes

- 1,000 performers

- 200 backstage production crew

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- 200 backstage support volunteers

- 400 performers to sing World in Union

- 8,000 blades of flax harvested and 9.5kms of silk to be used in costumes

- © Fairfax NZ News

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