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World Cup 2021 opener set for record breaking attendance

By AAP
Photo by Dan Mullan - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

The triple-header Rugby World Cup opening matchday next month will break the world record for most fans at a women’s rugby match.

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Rugby World Cup organisers say they’ll create history in Auckland next month by breaking a world record for the most fans at a women’s rugby match.

That means Australia’s Wallaroos will face the might of tournament favourites and hosts New Zealand, buoyed by tens of thousands of Kiwi fans at Eden Park.

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On Wednesday, tournament director Michelle Hooper said the triple-header opening matchday on October 8, headlined by the Australia-New Zealand match, was bound to pass the benchmark of 20,000 people at the 2014 Rugby World Cup final in Paris.

“We plan to make history on matchday one by breaking the world record for match attendance for women’s rugby,” she said.

“We need to pass 20,000 people … and you’ll all be encouraged to know that we’re well on track to do that, it’s just now how far past the record can we get.”

The opening triple-header will also see France face South Africa and England tackle Fiji play at Eden Park, which can accommodate around 50,000 fans.

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The tournament is the ninth edition of the women’s Rugby World Cup and the first staged in the southern hemisphere.

Organisers have centralised matches around Auckland, hosting matches at three venues; Eden Park, Waitakere Stadium, and the Northland Events Centre in Whangarei, roughly two hours drive north from Auckland.

The majority of tickets are available at the pleasing price point of $NZ10 ($A8.80) for adults and $NZ5 ($A4.40).

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“Our goal is to win the hearts and minds of fans locally and globally and help the world fall in love with the women’s game,” Ms Hooper said.

World Rugby head of women’s competitions Alison Hughes said the governing body resisted the urge to compress the six-week tournament by holding midweek matches.

“Is there a reason for having games only on the weekend? A better opportunity for fans to come and see the games,” she said.

“We thought weekend matches would be much more appealing from a fan perspective and for broadcasters.”

English star Rita Ora – who has ties to New Zealand through her partner, Kiwi director-actor extraordinaire Taika Waititi – will also perform at Eden Park on the opening day.

The World Cup final is at Eden Park on November 12.

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