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NZ rugby ticket sales surge to 90% of World Cup target

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- The All Blacks emphatic win over Australia at the weekend sparked an NZ$1 million dollar rush in ticket sales, suggesting New Zealanders are growing more confident that their beloved national team can win the Rugby World Cup on home soil to end two decades of disappointment.

A month out from the tournament kickoff, Rugby World Cup organizers announced Tuesday that ticket sales have reached 87 percent of target levels, boosted by the rush since Saturday's Bledisloe Cup win at Eden Park.

Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden said 1.08 million tickets have so far been sold. That represented revenue of NZ$234 million (US$185 million); 34.5 million dollars (US$27 million) short of organizers' final goal.

The tournament opens with New Zealand against Tonga at Eden Park on Sept. 9, and culminates with a final at the Auckland venue on Oct. 23. The All Blacks, consistently the No. 1-ranked team in the world, haven't won the World Cup since co-hosting the inaugural edition with Australia in 1987.

Snedden said the number of international visitors expected during the World Cup had been revised up from 85,000 to 95,000 based on international ticket sales, including 30,000 from Australia and 35,000 from Britain, Ireland and France.

“The upsurge in support from overseas fans is a strong sign of confidence in our ability to host the biggest sporting event New Zealand has ever held,” Snedden said. “It also underlines what we have always said; that this tournament brings multiple economic benefits to our country as well as providing a priceless opportunity to show the best of New Zealand to the world.”

Snedden said an analysis of ticket sales for 2011 showed worldwide interest in the tournament.

“We are expecting around 25,000 fans from the UK and Ireland and another 10,000 from France,” he said. “It's also terrific to see good numbers coming from the Americas, and that (teams from) the USA, Canada and Argentina will be well supported. Our estimates suggest 10,000 from these countries.”

Snedden said 300,000 tickets, representing revenue of NZ$65 million New Zealand dollars (US$51 million), had sold in the past 10 weeks.

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NZ rugby ticket sales surge to 90% of World Cup target
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw holds up the Bledisloe cup after the team's win over Australia during their Tri Nations and Bledisloe cup rugby match at Eden Park in Auckland, New ...

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