Lit­tle rip­pers count down to world cup

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

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.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

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.

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