Bevan Hurley

Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

RWC: Miss Russia on her way for the Cup fun

Russian billionaire Roustam Tariko is the latest international jetsetter to announce plans to attend the Rugby World Cup - and he is bringing Miss Russia for company.

Tariko, the owner of Russian Standard Vodka, will attend the match between Russia and the US on September 15 in New Plymouth, flying in on his private Boeing jet.

The self-made businessman also owns a bank and the rights to run the Russian national beauty pageant, and will be joined by the current Miss Russia, Natalia Gantimurova, his PR company said.

The Taranaki Daily News reported earlier in the year that either Russian President Dmitry Medvedev or Prime Minister Vladimir Putin were also being lined up to attend the game.

Taranaki, already on a high from winning the Ranfurly Shield this week, will extend a warm welcome to the visiting dignitaries, said New Plymouth District Council general manager community services Cathy Thurston.

Tariko will also attend the All Blacks vs Japan game at Hamilton on September 16.

Tariko's countryman Mikhail Khimich has bought a corporate box at Eden Park through his company Waiwera Water.

Tariko visited the country in 2009 briefly to help launch his brand, conduct media interviews and host more than 100 VIPs and dignitaries at a cocktail party in Auckland.

He will launch a premium brand of vodka during this stay.

Less than two weeks out from kick-off, confirmation - and rumours - of celebrity visitors are ramping up.

The New Zealand Herald has speculated Albert II, Prince of Monaco, and his wife Princess Charlene might visit.

Political leaders here at the same time for the Pacific Islands Forum include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, US Assistant Secretary of State for Asia Pacific Kurt Campbell, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma and Tongan PM Lord Siale'Ataonogo Tu'ivakano.

Others tipped to be here include French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Takeaki Matsumoto and Japanese former PM Yoshiro Mori.

Virgin boss Richard Branson is coming.

- Herald on Sunday

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