Rugby: Junior WC crowd sizes hard to predict

By Campbell Burns

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew. Photo / Getty Images.
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew. Photo / Getty Images.

Will the crowds come in numbers?

That is the big question for the Junior World Championship, which was launched on Friday when the New Zealand Under 20s and the Ngati Whatua people welcomed the international sides to the Orakei marae.

"The key thing now is for Aucklanders, in particular, to come out and have a look, because it'd be a real shame if these guys don't play in front of decent crowds," said New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew.

"It's very hard to read (crowd size predictions). In previous tournaments, interest hasn't got real traction until the event's started. But now we have all the teams here, and the way we have priced it, hopefully people can come with their families."

There are other rugby distractions over the next few weeks, and not just the All Blacks-England series, as Tew acknowledged.

"June's a big month for rugby in this country. The Black Ferns have got four tests, so we'll get a good read on where they are at before they go to France for the World Cup.

"But this is the second largest event the IRB hold, so it's a pretty special event for them. Obviously when you see how many of our players have gone on to become All Blacks (18), this is an important milestone tournament."

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