Rugby World Cup will reap rewards
Updated: 2011-09-13 16:49
Japan's Tomoki Yoshida takes part in a training session in Auckland September 13, 2011, ahead of their Rugby World Cup Pool A match against New Zealand All Blacks in Hamilton on Friday. [Photo/Agencies]
WELLINGTON - New Zealanders should bask in the rugby World Cup and reap the benefits of hosting a global sporting event, said one of the British politicians in charge of the London Olympics.
"What a fantastic achievement," Jeremy Browne, Britain's Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth office and who has responsibilty for the legacy effects of the 2012 London Games, said in an interview in Wellington on Monday.
"This is the biggest sporting event anywhere in the world this year and it's in New Zealand -- which has a population of just over four million people.
"You have put on a fantastic show and the excitement is palpable ... and the vast majority of people are right behind it and are very enthusiastic."
Georgia's Shalva Sutiashvili takes part in their Captain's run in Invercargill September 13, 2011, ahead of their Rugby World Cup Pool B match against Scotland at Rugby Park Stadium on Wednesday. [Photo/Agencies]
Browne was making a flying visit to New Zealand where he saw four rugby world Cup matches in two days and was addressing New Zealand Olympic Committee officials on Monday on how they could use the World Cup to drum up more business, government and sporting networking opportunities heading into London 2012.
"There are a lot of people who are looking at New Zealand at the moment who wouldn't ordinarily be looking at New Zealand," he said.
"We are going to be getting that next year with the Olympics.
"There are business people, heads of state, lot of economic events around the Games with high profile businessmen and women talking to people and developing their business contacts.
"So there will be a sense of London being a hub for global attention for the Olympics and Paralympics so obviousy we want to exploit that in the best possible way."
Browne said the recent riots in Britain had tarnished the country's image, but added that communities were horrified at the rioting.
"It was a serious law and order failure and we don't want to project those images around the world," he said.
"I'm not making excuses, but what you didn't see was the millions of young people who were going to work, or participating in voluntary work and community sports teams."
Browne attended the opening game of the tournament in Auckland between the All Blacks and Tonga before he attended the Scotland-Romania match in Invercargill and the England-Argentina match in Dunedin, which was "a little too close for comfort".
He also went to the Springboks-Wales game in Wellington on Sunday and said after his short time in the country he felt that New Zealanders, while they wanted the All Blacks to win, were passionate about seeing rugby develop as a global sport.
"Everyone who follows rugby has a genuine affection for rugby as a sport," he said.
"I want the British teams to do well but I would like to see rugby come on in countries like Argentina and Italy and Japan, who are hosting in eight years time.
"People were right behind the Japan team ...against France (in Albany on Saturday) and I think people want rugby to rise to the occasion.
"The games have been a lot closer than expected and that bodes well for rugby as a sport.
"The world game is ...getting stronger and stronger and the World Cup is about building that."