JWC opening day attracts record attendance
By Joaquin Galan
A record number of people attended the opening day of the IRB
Junior World Championship 2010 in Argentina, raising hopes of
similar attendances for the remaining four match days.
More than 30,000 spectators poured through the gates of the three tournament venues with 16,000 attending the two matches in Rosario, 10,000 making their way to Santa Fe and a further 4,000 watching the two games played in Parana.
IRB Tournament Director Philippe Bourdarias said he was thrilled to see the excitement the Under 20 tournament had generated among the Argentinean public.
"We were expecting lots of people but not so many. The
truth is that the numbers have exceeded our expectations. There
were 30,000 people between among the three stadiums and we really
loved it," said Bourdarias.
"It is the best start of an IRB Junior World Championship as regards influx. Generally the attendance is high in the last day, but it was never like this first day."
Bourdarias revealed that the opening day attendances were double that achieved in both Wales in 2008 and Japan last year. The 2009 tournament saw just over 100,000 spectators attend across the 40 matches, 10 more than the 2010 edition will have as there are only 12 not 16 teams.
Rosario's Estadio El Coloso del Parque drew the biggest
crowd with around 7,000 fans on hand to watch France defeat Ireland
25-22. However, by half time the stadium was awash with blue and
white with a further 9,000 pouring in to show their support for the
home side as they took on England.
Unión de Rugby Rosario President José Costante said clubs and Unions in the area had promoted the event through their own membership, but even they were surprised by the final numbers.
"The weather on Saturday also contributed to the huge amount of people. We have to recognise that this exceeded our expectations," said Costante.
"Now harder matches are coming, and then the finals, so surely people will continue going to the stadium. I hope that all this will make people enjoy it and that they will keep watching the best teams of the category in action."
Union Entrerriana de Rugby President Daniel Marcó echoed this sentiment over the attendances in Parana.
"The stadium was prepared for 3,000 spectators and a lot more came. We are very satisfied with the good response of the public. This is something historical," said Marcó.
Good times ahead
The games on Saturday marked just the second time ever that rugby had come to Santa Fe's Estadio CA Colon following the Pumas match against Ireland in 2007.
Pedro Benet, Unión Santafesina de Rugby President, said he had anticipated a much quieter start to the tournament.
"We absolutely overcame all expectations. Knowing that it was the beginning of the tournament we didn't expect so much public support. It wasn't even the end of the first half of the first match and the stadium stalls were full," said Benet.
"For the third round, we will have the deciders of the A and C pools, so we believe that the public will respond the same way they did this last weekend. We will carry out some actions of promotion and publicity in the next few days and we hope that this brings more people."
Pool matches are scheduled for Wednesday and Sunday, before the semi finals and play-off matches on 17 June and the finals day on 21 June.