The announcement follows approval from the board of Rugby World Cup Limited for the final weekend dates, which have been selected to maximise the benefits of the tournament and to allow New Zealanders to enjoy the culmination of the event.
The confirmation of the dates was welcomed by Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd CEO Martin Snedden.
“This is a great result as we can maximise the enjoyment by New Zealanders and visiting rugby fans, over a holiday weekend, of the tournament finale,” he said.
“As we saw with the Lions Series and America’s Cups held in New Zealand, people like to make the most of these major events, and bringing the curtain down over a long weekend will allow everyone to do that,” he said.
RNZ 2011 Ltd is the organisation established by the New Zealand Rugby Union and the New Zealand Government to prepare for and deliver the 2011 tournament.
Today’s announcement coincided with the opening of the Rugby New Zealand 2011 office in Wellington. The office was officially opened by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Helen Clark.
The confirmation of the tournament final weekend dates was welcomed by Rugby World Cup Minister Trevor Mallard, who said slight changes would also be made to 2011 school terms to ensure maximum enjoyment of the finals and also to enable the tournament to run smoothly for the holiday weekend.
The Minister of Education, after consultation with education sector groups, had agreed to a slight lengthening of terms one and two and a shortening of term four, but without any change to the length of the school year.
Dates for the school holidays in 2011 will be: Term One: Between Monday 31 January and Monday 7 February to Friday 15 April; Term Two: Monday 2 May to Friday 15 July; Term Three: Monday 1 August to Friday 7 October; and Term Four: Tuesday 25 October to Tuesday 13 December, at the latest, for secondary schools, and Tuesday 20 December, at the latest, for primary schools.
"This change will deliver several benefits. School holidays mean less pressure on traffic flows and on public transport, and will free up buses - which will mean increased capacity for the 50,000 or so visitors we are expecting in Auckland.
"Demand for business travel and accommodation drops during school holidays too, so that will also free up accommodation for the international visitors and fans from around the country and it offers the opportunity for people to rent out their homes and hostels if they want to get out of Auckland,” said Trevor Mallard.
"With kids being out of school, parents, teachers and older school children will also be able to enjoy the excitement of the build-up to the finals games, and perhaps also add to the volunteer pool which will be needed to help out with the Rugby World Cup.
"This is an important event which will have huge economic benefits, not only for the Auckland region, but for New Zealand as a whole. I am really grateful that the school sector has acknowledged the need to make this change in the national interest," he said.
Aligning school holiday dates is common for major events including the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and Melbourne.
The confirmation of the date and alignment of the school holiday periods has also been welcomed by Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman, Dr Syd Millar.
"The RWCL Board is very appreciative of the New Zealand Government initiative that will see the primary and secondary school holidays coincide with the final and the last two weekends of RWC 2011. The movement of the school holidays to coincide with the 'business end' of the tournament will undoubtedly be a major boost to the tournament. It highlights the strong partnership that exists between the Government, the New Zealand Rugby Union and RNZ 2011 in the organisation of the tournament," added Dr Millar.
While the final weekend has been confirmed, an announcement of the exact date of the final as well as the starting date for the tournament were still some way off as they are subject to current discussions around the structure of the tournament.
Dr Millar said the RWCL Board has yet to determine the overall structure of the tournament and the number of teams that will play in RWC 2011.
“It is envisaged a decision on these will be made in October this year," he said.
About Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd: Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd was established in June 2006 and is the organisation responsible for the planning and delivery of Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2011 in New Zealand on behalf of its shareholders, the New Zealand Rugby Union and the New Zealand Government. The New Zealand Rugby Union was selected as the Host Union for RWC 2011 by the International Rugby Board Council in November 2005.
About IRB Rugby World Cup: The IRB Rugby World Cup is the third largest sports event in the world. The inaugural tournament took place in 1987 and it is held every four years. In 2003 the tournament was held in Australia and enjoyed a cumulative worldwide broadcast audience of over 3 billion. The sixth tournament in 2007 will be held primarily in France and has already sold over two million tickets. For the latest on RWC 2007 visit www.rugbyworldcup.com