Former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick was the focal point of New Zealand involvement in this morning's opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup.

Each nation was represented by a rugby great at the opening ceremony in Twickenham in London ahead of the tournament's first game between hosts England and Fiji.

Fitzpatrick, English-based for over a decade, was given the honour for New Zealand. World Cup-winning captain from 2003, Martin Johnson, represented England, causing home fans to go into a long and sustained chant of 'Jonno, Jonno'.

Prince Harry welcomed spectators and the huge global worldwide audience, telling them there will be moments during the six-week tournament that will be remembered for the rest of our lives.

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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the Rugby World Cup 2016 Opening Ceremony at Twickenham Stadium on September 18, 2015. Photo / Getty Images
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the Rugby World Cup 2016 Opening Ceremony at Twickenham Stadium on September 18, 2015. Photo / Getty Images
The royal couple watch on with anticipation during the Rugby World Cup 2015 opening ceremony at Twickenham Stadium. Photo / Getty Images
The royal couple watch on with anticipation during the Rugby World Cup 2015 opening ceremony at Twickenham Stadium. Photo / Getty Images

He urged fans to "raise the roof" and "celebrate the game like never before". Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, were also in attendance, appearing eager and excited to be in the thick of the action, however the Queen did not attend.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the Rugby World Cup. Photo / Getty Images
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the Rugby World Cup. Photo / Getty Images

There were a many New Zealanders at the opening ceremony with silver ferns and All Black shirts prominent.

The ceremony was only 20-minutes long and featured a giant rugby ball as a centrepiece.

Opening ceremony action before the opening match, of Pool A match between Fiji and England held at Twickenham Stadium. photo / Brett Phibbs
Opening ceremony action before the opening match, of Pool A match between Fiji and England held at Twickenham Stadium. photo / Brett Phibbs

A bearded Prince Harry, or Prince Henry of Wales as he was formally introduced, reinforced his love of rugby.

"Rugby has changed dramatically in my lifetime. But it remains a game founded on a code of values....values which are as important today, both on and off the field, as they have ever been," he said.

The ceremony only had a fraction of the budget set for the last big sporting event in London - the 2012 Olympic Games.

Organisers worked with a budget of around $NZ2 million compared to the Olympics' $NZ55m but its simple presentation seemed to resonate with fans at Twickenham.

World Cup-winning English player Will Greenwood opened proceedings, wearing a Jonny Wilkinson mask, much to the delight of the 82,000 crowd who were easily swayed into joining renditions of Sweet Caroline and the Twickenham faithful's Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

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A mix of pyrotechnics, music, big screen video, dancing school children and celebrity appearances struck a chord with the audience as did a video dramatisation of a young William Webb Ellis, the man said to have inspired the birth of rugby.

EALES STUCK IN LIFT

The event didn't go off entirely without a hitch, however.

Former Australian captain John Eales was trapped in a lift at the stadium while trying to access the stands. The 45-year-old was stuck in the lift with a dozen people at Twickenham trying to access to corporate executive boxes on level six of the stadium.

One of the men trapped tweeted with a picture: "Ha ha stuck in a lift for 45 minutes with John Eales hilarious."

- With AP