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Wellington Beats Competition to Win Golden Oldies

Wellington Beats Global Competition to Win Golden Oldies

Wellington has beaten off international competition for the right to host the 16th Air New Zealand World Golden Oldies Rugby Festival in October next year, it was announced today.

The festival is the biggest rugby festival in the world, and is expected to attract over 200 rugby teams and 5,000 people from over 20 countries to the capital for eight days between 29 October and 6 November 2006.

The festival is expected to inject over $15 million into the Wellington economy.

The teams are expected to come from as diverse a range of nations as this year’s festival in San Diego – including Andorra, Czech, Portugal, Bahamas, Germany and China, as well as rugby playing nations such as Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, USA, South Africa, Argentina, Japan and Italy.

Wellington’s win means the festival will return to New Zealand for the first time in 10 years. The tournament was last held in New Zealand in 1995, when 5,885 participants descended on Christchurch.

Making the announcement at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium today, Norm Thompson, Air New Zealand Group General Manager Marketing, Network and Sales, said Wellington’s bid had beaten international and domestic contenders including Sydney and Queenstown.

"In the end, the quality of Wellington's bid was well ahead of the other domestic and international bidders," he said.

"We're thrilled to be able to bring this significant event back to New Zealand. Wellington has a proven tourism infrastructure for events of this scale and shown itself to be a very welcoming host for big rugby events like the AXA New Zealand International Sevens."

Wellington Mayor, Kerry Prendegast, said the city would pull out all stops to make the festival a special week.

“We’ll make this the best ever festival,” she said.

“We’ve got a few surprises planned for our 5,000 guests – including New Zealand’s biggest-ever marquee, which we’re planning to erect over the Westpac Stadium pitch to host the welcome and farewell dinners.”

The festival will be event-managed by the Wellington Rugby Football Union, who will coordinate games at venues around Wellington and all off field activities.

Air New Zealand World Golden Oldies Rugby Festivals usually occur every two years, but in 2005 and 2006 the festivals will be in consecutive years as the tournament realigns itself to avoid a clash with the Rugby World Cup. The next festival after Wellington will be in 2008.

For more details on the 2006 Air New Zealand World Golden Oldies Rugby Festival, visit www.goldenoldiessports.com.

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