Rugby World Cup 2011 today announced the official host cities and provincial centres for the RWC 2011 teams.
"Wellington people have proved time and time again that they can roll out the red carpet for our visitors and make them feel very welcome," says Mayor Prendergast.
"Knowing who we'll be hosting has added new impetus to our plans for the tournament, and will enable an even greater level of engagement with the World Cup for residents in the region. I am certain the region will rise to the challenge of making the teams feel ‘at home'."
Wellington City Council, in partnership with the Regional Coordination Group (RCG), is well advanced with the planning for RWC 2011, and the announcement of the host teams provides a new focus for these efforts, and the engagement of our region's communities in the detail of the events.
It was the concept of the Great Central Stand - that embraced the 1 million New Zealanders within five hours' drive of Wellington Regional Stadium, and involved them in creating an international rugby festival with a unique kiwi thumbprint - that helped Wellington region win the bid to host the quarter-finals.
The Wellington region will host:
South Africa 17 nights Rugby League Park
Wales 9 Porirua Park
Fiji 7 Porirua Park
Australia 6 Rugby League Park
USA 5 Newtown Park
Canada 3 Porirua Park
New Zealand 8 Rugby League Park
Tonga 6 Hutt Recreation Ground
France 3 Newtown Park
Europe 1 7 Soldiers and Cameron Memorial Park (Masterton)
Other teams hosted within five hours' drive of the Stadium include
Ireland, USA, Europe 2, Namibia, and Wales in New Plymouth, USA in Wanganui, play-off winner, Argentina, and Europe 1 in Palmerston North.
"We want to create a legacy by creating lasting memories for both residents and visitors alike," says Mayor Prendergast.
"We see our challenge being to inspire the 1 million people in the ‘Great Central Stand' to make the Wellington Rugby World Cup experience the most memorable part of the tournament."
Official hosts of RWC 2011 teams are required to provide their teams with training facilities, accommodation and a ‘home away from home' when they are not involved in tournament games in other centres.
The announcement in Auckland was attended by key representatives of the Wellington RCG and Andy Leslie, former All Black captain and Chair of the WRFU's Rugby World Cup Legacy Group.
"We are already well down the line in our planning and work to involve rugby clubs throughout the region," says Mr Leslie. "They are already very excited about the opportunity to host families and team supporters, and get involved in the build-up to the tournament.
"The teams will be a great group to host, and the clubs are already looking forward to making them feel welcome, and helping to make this rugby festival as memorable an occasion as possible.
"My personal experience of the teams is that they and their supporters are as passionate about the game as we are. They will throw themselves into the festival, and they will also have a large support base of their countrymen who now live in New Zealand.
"I know what a difference it makes to your experience of a test series or tournament when you and your fans are made to feel welcome by a host city," Mr Leslie says.
Work is already well underway by Positively Wellington Tourism on marketing plans to attract visitors and media profile, and by Grow Wellington to maximise the opportunity of RWC 2011 for Wellington businesses. The City Council has set itself a target for the region of a return of $45 million.
Mayor Prendergast says the RCG will be working through schools, clubs, and with other partners to involve as many people as possible, and the Rugby Legacy Group will play a key role in this.
"Knowing the country of origin of the visiting fans is enormously useful in the planning process," she says.
Positively Wellington Tourism Chief Executive David Perks says today's announcement gives the region a strong platform to work off to maximise visitor numbers and media profile.
"We can now really get stuck in and start making that happen by talking to our trade partners, building awareness and telling our stories."
Mayor Prendergast says RWC 2011 has the potential to be a defining event in New Zealand's history. We see the opportunity to create enduring memories for New Zealanders and enduring benefits internationally, as viewers and visitors appreciate what our region and what our country has to offer.
"A great way for people and the region to become involved in the RWC 2011 is to embrace the teams we'll be hosting in our areas."