Tickets to the opening match day of Rugby World Cup have sold out, with a record-breaking crowd set to fill Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.
Fans will be part of history, seeing the tournament kick off by becoming the most attended women’s Rugby World Cup match day ever. Eden Park is expected to have a capacity just over 40,000 for the tournament.
Three matches will be played on Saturday. France meet South Africa in the first fixture at 2.15pm, followed by Fiji versus England at 4.45pm. The clash between the Black Ferns and Australia will be played at 7.15pm.
The crowd will surpass RWC 2014 finals day which was recorded as a sell out at the 20,000 capacity Stade Jean-Bouin stadium in France, and RWC 2017 finals day which saw 17,115 watch the Black Ferns claim their fifth Rugby World Cup title.
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It will be the first time in history that Eden Park has reached capacity for a women’s sports event and the attendance more than doubles the largest ever crowd for a standalone women’s sports event in New Zealand.
“It’s quite unbelievable thinking that women, women’s sport have sold out Eden Park,” Black Ferns captain Ruahei Demant said just over 24 hours before the historic match.
“I don’t think any of us could have imagined this.
“Eden Park is a fortress, it’s a fortress for men, but it’s also a fortress for us too.”
In an effort to boost sales, ticket prices began at $5 and $10 for children and adults respectively.
International entertainer Rita Ora will take the stage at the conclusion of the Fiji-England clash, and at halftime of the match between the Black Ferns and Australia.
It is the second game in the tournament to sell out. All 4500 tickets for the clash between the Black Ferns and Wales, to be played at Waitākere Stadium on October 16, have already been purchased.
Rugby World Cup tournament director Michelle Hooper said the full house at Eden Park sent a message to “the world that women’s rugby is due its rightful place in the spotlight’’.
“Creating history for women’s sport and setting new records for women’s rugby, will undoubtedly elevate the women’s game to new heights for generations to come,’’ Hooper said.
“We’d like to express our gratitude to fans and to the global rugby whānau for sharing our belief.
“This has been our shared vision from the outset and to see it come to light speaks volumes about the wave of change globally, celebrating wāhine toa and shining the spotlight on them.
"New Zealand is now officially on the record for smashing gender stereotypes and creating historical change. On behalf of all our team we acknowledge the trailblazers that couldn’t experience this moment and we honour them with this success.”
The World Cup is being played in New Zealand from October 8 to November 12.
It is the first time the event has been staged in the southern hemisphere. Twelve teams will play their matches at Eden Park, Waitākere Stadium and the Northland Events Centre.
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