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Wellington Gears up to Host Worlds Biggest Rugby Festival

Travel News Asia Monday, 28 August 2006

From 29 October to 5 November more than 4,000 rugby-mad people will descend on Wellington, the home of New Zealand rugby, for the 16th Air New Zealand Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival.

More than 160 teams from 15 countries will fill the city in a festival that celebrates fun, friendship and fraternity. Teams will also come from countries less known for their rugby such as the USA, Japan and American Samoa and more traditional rugby-playing nations; France, Ireland, England, Italy, South Africa, Cook Islands, Samoa and Australia, plus the Australian external territory of Norfolk Island and of course, New Zealand.

Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast says the city is very much looking forward to hosting the Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival.

Our visitors are in for a fantastic time as rugby clubs throughout the city gear up to host them in New Zealands rugby capital. Wellingtonians are known for their hospitality and will ensure our visitors have a fantastic time, both on and off the field. Its going to be a great week.

Golden Oldies Rugby is played by rugby players 35 years and older. Its overall aim is the celebration of friendship and an enjoyment of rugby, where the partying off the field is as much a part of the experience as the games themselves.

The Festival will have a rugby icon in the form of former All Black captain and current New Zealand Rugby Union vice president Andy Leslie, who is the official Festival Ambassador.

Its an honour to be involved in this years Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival, said Andy Leslie. It promises to be a week to remember, and Im thrilled that it will take place in Wellington. What better place to give these overseas teams a taste of the New Zealand rugby experience but here, in one of the greatest little cities in the world.

The Festival will kick off with the official opening on the steps of Parliament on Sunday 29 October, followed by a street parade with all participating teams that will end with a welcome party at Te Papa. The games will be played on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the week, 75 games in total each day, at three rugby fields around the Wellington region: Ian Galloway Park, Kilbirnie and Evans Bay Parks (which are adjacent) and Petone Recreation Ground.

This is a huge event for Wellington, said Positively Wellington Tourism CEO Tim Cossar. What a great opportunity to showcase Wellington to the world, and build upon our reputation as home of New Zealand rugby. Planning is well underway and the city is gearing up to welcome the players. Virtually every hotel bed in the region will be full, buses will be brought in from throughout the lower North Island, and Wellington will be bustling.

The biennial festival returns to New Zealand for the first time in 11 years, last staged in Christchurch in 1995. It also brings the worldwide Golden Oldies movement full circle.

It began in the late 1970s when former All Black and New Zealand Rugby Union Councilor Tom Johnson, who lived in the Wellington region at the time, visited North America and found that people remained involved in rugby in Canada and USA through masters and veterans movements. The first Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival took place in Auckland in 1979.

The Golden Oldies Rugby Festivals have been held in Long Beach, Sydney, London, Auckland, Toronto, Perth, Dublin, Christchurch, Vancouver, Cape Town, Adelaide, Toulouse, Brisbane and San Diego.

See other recent news regarding: Wellington, Rugby

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