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Rugby World Cup: Thousands of fans here

By Imogen Crispe

If you're around for the Rugby World Cup and think you're seeing an extraordinary number of compatriots, you're right.

Just over 35,000 more visitors than this time last year have arrived in time for the climax of the tournament. And there's plenty more to come.

Customs reported 388,697 people arriving between August 29 and September 26 compared with 353,659 at the same time last year, an increase of 10 per cent.

Almost 10,000 more British people have arrived compared with last year, three times as many French, four times as many Irish, eight times as many Argentines and twice as many South Africans. The number of Australians is about the same.

British rugby fans who lived in France, Christine and Stephen Buckley, were here for three weeks until Friday and were surprised by the number of visitors, especially people from France and Ireland.

On the France v All Blacks match day, the couple saw lots of French people, especially at the Auckland Museum. "There were French everywhere," Stephen said.

They went to the Ireland v Russia game in Rotorua last weekend and couldn't believe the number of Irish people.

"I've never seen so many Irish in one place," Stephen said.

They said they loved New Zealand and had found a good atmosphere here. Their daughter lives in Auckland.

Officials believe the rush isn't over.

Rugby World Cup 2011 predicted 95,000 visitors for the event while Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development estimated 65,000 to 75,000 people would be coming, mainly for the playoffs which start next weekend.

- Herald on Sunday

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