WITH key games yet to be played in this year’s Six Nations tournament, rugby fans have another big date on their horizon: The 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
England Rugby Travel, official travel company for the rugby union, is the first UK-based official travel agent to launch supporter travel packages which include flights, accommodation and match tickets.
The tournament, kicking off on September 9 when New Zealand’s All Blacks face Tonga, features 13 match venues throughout the country, with 23 centres hosting teams from Whangarei in the top of the North Island, to Invercargill at the bottom of the South Island.
This is an important component to bring to life New Zealand’s ’Stadium of Four Million’ concept, as the country gets set to welcome the world to a nationwide ’festival of rugby’ atmosphere.
Around 85,000 spectators are expected to book holidays for the event – around 30% of them from the UK and Ireland.
Fans can purchase various options from just a single match ticket and one night’s accommodation, to a seven-week motor home touring holiday in New Zealand with tickets to all England’s pool matches, semi-finals and the final at Eden Park in Auckland, which is being upgraded to a capacity of 60,000.
There are plans in Wellington for the city’s waterfront Fan Zone, a rugby village near the national Te Papa museum offering a unique New Zealand cultural experience.
“Tourism New Zealand is working closely with travel partners to give rugby fans a uniquely Kiwi experience,” says Gregg Anderson of Tourism New Zealand.
“The tournament is structured to provide the perfect opportunity for fans to travel the length and breadth of New Zealand between matches.”
Paul Vaughan, RFU business operations director and also the managing director of England Rugby Travel, says: “Every one in the England Rugby set-up is extremely proud of the supporter community that follows the national side, both at Twickenham and all away games.”
l For further information and travel package details, contact England Rugby Travel (0844 788 5000 and www.englandrugbytravel.com).
Other official agents selling packages for Rugby World Cup 2011 are Gullivers Travel and Thomas Cook Sport.
For further information about New Zealand and the Rugby World Cup in 2011, see www.newzealand.com/travel.