Little rippers count down to world cup
The two-year countdown until the start of the 2011 Rugby World Cup is about to kick off.
To recognise that the tournament’s opening match between the All Blacks and Tonga is exactly two years away from Wednesday, September 9, children from around Auckland will take part in Rippa Rugby matches at Queen Elizabeth II Square.
Rippa Rugby is a non-contact version of the sport.
As an added bonus former All Blacks from the 1987 world cup winning team will be there egging them on during the Two Years to Go event.
Gladstone Primary School student Matthew Macdonald, 10, says he can’t wait to show off his Rippa Rugby skills.
“It’ll be really cool. I always watch the All Blacks.”
Former All Black flanker Alan Whetton, who will attend the event, says it’s a privilege to be involved.
“There’s a history with the world cup after we won it in 1987. Being part of the next one like this is a fantastic experience.
“Hopefully we can all be part of winning one in 2011 as well.”
During the event a former All Black will present a limited edition ball to a Tongan child to recognise the All Blacks match against Tonga to start the cup.
World cup steering group chairwoman Rachael Dacy, who heads a group of officials from councils and other organisations involved in the tournament, says preparations are well on track.
Ms Dacy says with most big infrastructure projects like upgrading Eden Park and surrounding streets well under way, there’s been a change in focus to engaging with the community.
“We’re working on how we involve volunteers in lead-up events, harness community support for the tournament and how we market Auckland to the world,” says Ms Dacy.
Two Years to Go is part of the push for more local involvement.
Community engagement programmes during the tournament will include allowing the public access to teams’ training sessions at grounds around the city.
If you want to be part of the action, head down to Queen Elizabeth II Square, opposite the Britomart station, next Wednesday between noon and 1pm.
Practice makes perfect: Former All Black Alan Whetton helps Gladstone School student Matthew Macdonald out with his lineout skills before their Rippa Rugby match at the Two Years to Go event at Queen Elizabeth II Square next Wednesday.