RWC: Fijians en route to the Bay

By Michael Dickison

The first Rugby World Cup team arrives today at Auckland Airport, kicking off a series of welcoming ceremonies ahead of the opening match next week.

Fiji will be the first team to land in the country and will be given an official welcome at the airport at 3.15pm.

England, Japan and France will follow on Wednesday.

The welcoming ceremonies will take place at Auckland Airport's International Terminal, in an event area set up outside the main arrivals building. Teams will come out directly on to the stage and be greeted with a kapa haka welcome, a short speech from the Mayor or council representative, and a waiata. They will then make their way to their team bus.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is encouraging Aucklanders to "share a moment of history" as the first team arrives for the World Cup.

"These events will be the start of the [World Cup] experience in New Zealand for these teams, and it's up to Aucklanders to share our spirit of hospitality and give them a deserving and memorable greeting," Mr Brown said.

More formal welcoming ceremonies will be held around the city from Thursday, including on Orakei Marae for the French on Saturday.

Fiji will head to Ohope Beach for seven nights before starting training in Tauranga.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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