RWC reaches milestone

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The Rugby World Cup reached a major milestone on 21 May 2011 when it reached one million 'likes' on the official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/rugbyworldcup), also making it the largest Facebook fan page in New Zealand and the largest sports community in Australasia.

Established in September 2009 to coincide with the 'Two Years to Go' milestone, the page has grown steadily over the past 18 months, attracting fans from around the world who receive regular updates through their news feeds. IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said: We are very excited that so many fans have shown their support for the Tournament via our official Facebook page and it is great to see fans from all over the world have joined the community. " The Rugby World Cup Facebook page allows fans to interact with a range of content and with other fans who have similar interests. Fans can add their own comments, participate in polls and discussions and add their own photos and videos. Through social media, we have been able to connect with a new audience for the Tournament, an audience that we know will be the future of the sport in years to come, added Lapasset. Fans of the page represent an international melting pot, with no one country accounting for more than 20% of the fan base. The UK has the biggest share of the audience (19%), followed by France (11%), New Zealand (11%), Argentina (8%) and Australia (7%). 55% of fans are under the age of 25. Shane Harmon, general manager of marketing and communications at Rugby New Zealand 2011 said: One of the features of Rugby World Cup is the good natured banter and camaraderie among fans of different teams. This passion is very much reflected on our Facebook page. Social media has developed into an integral part of our marketing and communications activities, allowing us to interact with Rugby World Cup fans to a level never before experienced by a Rugby event. " Feedback on the page allows us make our content more relevant for fans. Its also a very important customer service platform where we answer numerous questions on a daily basis. " In addition to Facebook, Rugby World Cup also has a presence on several other social media sites including Twitter, YouTube (video) and Flickr (photos). In the lead up to and during the Tournament, the official social media sites will be an integral part of the news service offered to fans, giving them access to Rugby World Cup content including results, interviews, videos, photos, games and more. Social Media plays an important role in the promotion of sport worldwide and players, coaches and team members will be able to connect with fans via social platforms during RWC 2011. We understand the important role that social media plays in the promotion of Rugby around the world. We are happy for players to use social media to share their experiences during Rugby World Cup providing they do so sensibly, added Harmon. Followers can join Rugby World Cup online at: www. facebook. com/rugbyworldcup www. twitter. com/rugbyworldcupwww. youtube. com/rugbyworldcupwww. flickr. com/rugbyworldcup. . . and through the official Tournament website at www. rugbyworldcup. com. Meamwhile, rugby fans from around the world will soon receive their tickets for RWC 2011 matches. The tickets have a uniquely New Zealand design and feature the Tournaments mangopare and koru designs which represent the world coming together in union for Rugbys greatest contest. This is an exciting moment for fans, particularly those who purchased tickets a year ago. It is such a tangible sign that the Tournament is drawing near, said Martin Snedden, CEO for Tournament Organiser Rugby New Zealand 2011 (RNZ 2011). New Zealand fans who opted to have their tickets delivered by mail or via Worldwide Partner DHL will receive their allocation over the next three Saturdays. Fans who opted to collect their tickets can do so from Ticketek outlets from 30 May 2011. Tickets for Dunedin matches will be delivered in July. Overseas fans who opted for delivery should receive their tickets by the end of the month. Ticketing update for rescheduled matches RNZ 2011 has now completed the first stage of the ticketing process implemented as a result of matches being rescheduled due to the Christchurch earthquake, being the refund of ticket monies paid by affected purchasers. The devastating Christchurch earthquake has necessitated the transfer of eight matches in total, representing 130, 000 tickets worth NZ$20m, " explained Snedden. " These tickets have now been refunded. Fans who bought those tickets will receive notification this Friday of their priority option to repurchase tickets at the relocated venues from next week. RNZ 2011 also announced that fans who had purchased ticket pool packs at the venues that have been allocated additional matches (Invercargill, Dunedin, Nelson, Wellington, North Harbour and Eden Park) will receive a special pre–sale offer in June to add those additional matches to their existing venue packs. Organisers remain confident ticket sales on track Prior to the refunds triggered by the Christchurch earthquake RNZ 2011 had sold a total of 919, 000 tickets worth NZ$189m (70% of the overall sales target of NZ$268m). This is similar to the position at the same point in time for the previous Rugby World Cups in France and Australia. Following the cancellation of ticket sales for the eight relocated matches, and the full refund to those affected ticket purchasers, the sales equation now stands at 790, 000 ticket sold, such sales being worth NZ$169m in total. Pre–Christchurch, ticket sales were exactly where we expected them to be. The transfer of matches so close to kick–off is unprecedented for any major event and has created significant additional challenges, but we remain confident that we should be able to recoup the bulk of the refunded sales within the next two months or so, said Snedden. In addition, RNZ 2011 has the appropriate insurance arrangements in place for this type of incident. " Included in the current sales figures are 105, 000 tickets so far committed to through the RWC 2011 Official Travel Agency (OTA) programme. This is up from the 70, 000 tickets originally committed to by that programme and already outstrips the RWC 2003 total OTA sales of 85, 000. Total OTA sales to date have been excellent and we remain hopeful that more sales within this programme will occur between now and Tournament time. Overall, we still remain confident that, by Tournament–end, we will achieve our sales target of NZ$268m and 1. 35m tickets, " said Snedden. Final sales phase begins 4 July 2011 RNZ 2011 also announced that the final sales period for RWC 2011 tickets will start on Monday, 4 July 2011. For those who have always intended going to RWC 2011 but who havent yet purchased tickets, July 4 is a key date. From this day we will be putting on sale remaining tickets, either over the counter at Ticketek outlets, by phone or through the Tournament website www. rugbyworldcup. com. Tickets will remain on sale until they are gone and we urge fans to get in quick as this really will represent the last opportunity to secure a place ringside at Rugbys biggest Tournament. The final sales phase is traditionally a strong sales period for major events. As was the case in Australia in 2003 and France in 2007 we fully expect that to be the case in New Zealand. " Visitor numbers / overall Australian sales remain strong In December we stated that, based on our public sales to date coupled with orders through the Official Travel Agency programme, we are expecting at least 85, 000 fans from more than 100 countries would visit, 20, 000 more than attended RWC 2003 in Australia, " said Snedden. We still remain confident that we will achieve at least that number. We have received no indication since the earthquake that those who had purchased tickets will now not be coming. Our biggest single market remains Australia and sales from there are strong overall, continued Snedden. Current public ticket sales and orders through the Official Travel programme indicate visitor numbers of around 29, 000 from Australia. This is well ahead of initial forecasts in 2005 (17, 000) and Tourism Ministry forecasts of 2010 (21, 300). IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said: There is no doubt that Rugby World Cup 2011 will be a successful Tournament. All partners are committed to delivering an outstanding event – a Tournament that New Zealanders and the global Rugby family will be proud of.

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