Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Canada and Russia exchange snarky tweets

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola in Nigeria: First death outside of Lagos

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Niger: Top opposition figure to be questioned in baby-trafficking scandal

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Liberia: President dismisses top officials who ignored call to return home

Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Pakistan army to mediate between PM, protesters

    Read more

  • PSG face Barcelona, Ajax in tough Champions League draw

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • Erdogan sworn in as Turkey's president

    Read more

Sport

Tonga faces All Blacks in World Cup opening match

Video by FRANCE 2 , Aurore Cloe DUPUIS

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-09-09

Downtown Auckland turned into a party zone on Friday for the start of the Rugby World Cup as tens of thousands of fans flooded the streets ahead of the opening match on Friday when Tonga faces off against New Zealand's All Blacks.

AP - This Rugby World Cup is already delivering a new addition to the New Zealand lexicon: the flash mob haka.

On the opening day of the seventh World Cup on Friday, dozens of performers of the traditional Maori war dance wowed crowds in two cities as New Zealanders shed their reserved image by transforming downtown Auckland into a party zone with a distinctly Pacific feel.

Tens of thousands of rugby fans flooded the streets, draped in the flags of their favorite teams. Some brought guitars, others sang their national anthems. One man used hair spray and lacquer to paint his shaved head in black with a silver fern, in support of the New Zealand All Blacks team. Hundreds of cars cruised through the city with flags waving and horns blaring.

So many people lined up to get onto Queen’s Wharf on the Auckland harborfront to watch festivities that authorities were forced to start turning them away within 30 minutes of the wharf opening, when it hit a capacity crowd of 12,000.

Thousands more jammed into the Viaduct Harbor to watch the arrival of 20 waka - traditional Maori canoes - a 600-person haka, and a concert headlined by New Zealand musicians Tim and Neil Finn.

Earlier in the day, about 50 performers blocked off one of Auckland’s main streets to perform their flash mob haka. A similar group entertained people on Wellington’s waterfront. The surprise hakas have become an Internet sensation in recent weeks.

New Zealand was playing Tonga in Friday night’s opening match, and there were thousands of Tongan supporters plenty of noise downtown. Earlier in the week, the Tongan fans made the biggest impression of any support group here by turning out in their thousands to greet their arriving team, almost bringing Auckland Airport to a standstill.

Tongan supporter John Letu, 18, who moved from the island nation to live in New Zealand eight years ago, predicted Tonga would win the opening contest 37-18 _ an unlikely outcome given that the New Zealanders are expected to easily win the match.

There were also hundreds of fans from Samoa and other Pacific nations cramming Auckland. Many Pacific leaders and dignitaries were already in town to attend the Pacific Islands Forum, which was timed to coincide with the cup.

“It’s an amazing day for it, we are so lucky,” Auckland Mayor Len Brown told The Associated Press. “We are as ready as we are going to be. I’m confident it’s going to be a brilliant World Cup.”

Megan Parr, 20, walked down the street wearing an American flag and an Uncle Sam hat over the top of her New Zealand colors.

“I want New Zealand to win, but I’m all for the USA doing well,” said Parr, who moved here from the U.S. in 2003. “I’ve been getting a few looks - I’m a bit of singularity out here.”

One young fan, Daniel Beban, 6, left school early and was headed to the waterfront with his mother Wendy Beban to watch his favorite team. His face was painted in New Zealand colors. He’d woken up at 4 a.m. because he was so excited.

Who was his favorite player?

“David Beckham” he replied without hesitation.

His mother laughed: “He loves soccer as well.”
 

Date created : 2011-09-09

  • RUGBY

    Wallabies beat All Blacks to take Tri-Nations crown

    Read more

  • RUGBY

    France coach announces squad for rugby World Cup

    Read more

  • RUGBY

    France beat Ireland 19-12 in World Cup warm-up

    Read more

COMMENT(S)