- New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern met with players from six teams ahead of Rugby World Cup 2021 kick-off
- Canada, Italy, Japan, Scotland, USA and Wales players attended event ahead of kicking off their campaigns at the Northland Events Centre in Whangarei on Sunday, 9 October
- Players were introduced to Wā Poi - a campaign to inspire, unite and educate the world on poi, the Māori performance implement, which will be handed out to fans at match venues
- Record-breaking crowd confirmed for opening match day at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday, 8 October
- Fans are urged to snap up remaining tickets online to avoid disappointment, tickets are available from NZ$5 for children and NZ$10 for adults here*
New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern provided an inspirational presence when meeting with players from six teams participating in Rugby World Cup 2021 on Thursday.
The Prime Minister was presented with an official match ball by World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin and Director of Women’s Rugby Sally Horrox before interacting with players at Northland Rugby Union’s headquarters at Pohe Island, a Rugby World Cup 2021 official training venue.
Mayor of Whangārei Sheryl Mai was also in attendance to present a gift of traditional handmade raupō short poi to the Prime Minister on behalf of Rugby World Cup 2021.
The event involved players from Canada, Italy, Japan, Scotland, the USA and Wales, who will all kick-off their Rugby World Cup campaigns at the Northland Events Centre in Whangarei on Sunday, 9 October.
During the event the players were introduced to Wā Poi (It’s Poi Time) - a campaign to inspire, unite and educate the world on poi.
Poi is the name for both the Māori performance art, most commonly seen performed by wāhine (women) in Kapa Haka, and the objects twirled during the performance. Poi were traditionally used by warriors to limber up their wrists in preparation for battle.
In recent times poi have become commonplace in schools and kura (Māori language schools) around the motu (island), with tamariki (children) making poi and performing. The twirling of poi can also be a way to build unity as a group in the way they create a beat when swung into the hand.
During Rugby World Cup 2021 poi will be handed out to fans at each match venue, with the aim of encouraging fans to twirl poi in support of all the teams competing.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “We are very grateful to New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern for her government’s exceptional support and commitment to making Rugby World Cup 2021 an outstanding success.
“As an inspirational and globally renowned female leader, it was a great opportunity for our unstoppable women’s rugby players to meet and interact with the Prime Minister while learning about the cultural significance of poi, which will be seen across all Rugby World Cup 2021 match venues over the next six weeks.
“New Zealand has an incredibly strong bond with rugby, and we are delighted to see the best women players in the world here in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time for a Rugby World Cup.
“With record breaking crowds the tournament is set to make history for women’s rugby and will showcase the phenomenal growth of the women’s game on and off the field, attracting and inspiring a new generation of girls and boys to play and support rugby around the world.”
With remaining tickets selling fast, fans are urged not to miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience by buying online.
Match day two on Sunday, 9 October will see a triple-header of matches take place at Northland Events Centre in Whangarei with USA v Italy followed by Japan v Canada and Wales v Scotland.
Tickets are available from NZ$5 for children and NZ$10 for adults at https://tickets2021.rugbyworldcup.com/.*
*Prices applicable to cash purchases made through Ticketek agents or outlets. Online purchases may attract additional payment processing and delivery fees.
Images and a video news release from the event are available in the World Rugby Media Zone.