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橄榄球世界杯将在新西兰开赛

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New Zealand is preparing to open the Rugby World Cup, described by Prime Minister John Key as the biggest event his country has staged.

新西兰正准备举办橄榄球世界杯,总理约翰·基称这是新西兰举办的最大的一场赛事。

Thousands of rugby fans have gathered at downtown Auckland's waterfront to enjoy the festivities
Thousands of rugby fans have gathered at downtown Auckland's waterfront to enjoy the festivities
Thousands of rugby fans have descended on Auckland for the celebrations that will include a waterfront(海滨) firework display and mass Haka dance.

The first match will be between the All Blacks and Tonga at Eden Park.

Matches will be held at stadia(视距) across the country except in Christchurch, devastated by the 22 February quake.

The natural disaster killed 181 people and large parts of the city have been written off as uninhabitable.

Christchurch, the most famous of all rugby cities in New Zealand, subsequently lost its rights to host seven World Cup matches.

England manager Martin Johnson paid his respects in Christchurch on Wednesday, visiting the Lancaster Park pitch. Australia as well as the All Blacks will also visit.

The International Rugby Board has launched a fundraising appeal to bolster the rugby community in the area.

"The people in Christchurch are going to be in our hearts and our minds on many occasions during the tournament," said organising committee chairman Martin Snedden.

"It's been a tough 12 months in New Zealand. The country is ready to have fun. It's ready to have a party."

Thousands of rugby fans have gathered at downtown Auckland's waterfront, wearing their team's jerseys(毛织运动衫) , draped with flags and covered in face paint, to enjoy the opening ceremony, which gets under way shortly.

The six-week World Cup event is the first in New Zealand since the inaugural tournament in 1987 - the last time the All Blacks won the title.

New Zealand and Tonga will kick-off on Friday. Tonga won a toss of the coin to perform their war dance, known as the sipi tau, first. The All Blacks will then start their world-famous Haka.

Fans started lining up outside the gates at Eden Park as early as 1000 (2200 GMT), keen to be among the 12,000-strong capacity crowd.


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