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Promo blitz to entice Aussies

RNZ 2011 chief executive Martin Sneddon.
RNZ 2011 chief executive Martin Sneddon. Mark Mitchell

THE Government and organisers of the Rugby World Cup will bombard Australia with rugby promotions in the coming weeks to entice more Aussies across the Tasman for the event, which kicks off in a month.

RNZ 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden said yesterday that an extra 10,000 overseas visitors, or 95,000 in all - up from an earlier estimate of 85,000 - are now expected for the RWC, and ticket sales were still on target.

But the Australian market still held a lot of potential to get them over the line, so Mr Snedden and Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully were planning to blitz Australia to boost ticket sales. The prospect of a transtasman final - talked up by Mr McCully and Prime Minister John Key as the perfect scenario - would likely flood the country with more Aussies.

"The Government is very comfortable with progress to date, but we've still got some work to do, particularly in Australia. Martin and I will be doing promotional work in Australia in the coming couple of weeks," Mr McCully said.

"I have no doubt that a New Zealand-Australia final would be something that would create a fantastic amount of anticipation and fun, and ultimately some heartbreak for one or other of us.Mr Snedden said his job was to look after all the teams but he couldn't keep from endorsing a transtasman final.

"There's still something left in the Australian market that we need to chase hard."

Currently, more than 30,000 fans are expected from Australia, 25,000 fans from the UK & Ireland and 10,000 from France.

Ticket sales were still on track and had climbed to 1.08 million, pushing up revenue to $234 million - $34.5 million, or 230,000 tickets, short of the final target.

Meeting the target would mean a loss of $39 million for hosting the tournament - to be shared by the Government and the NZ Rugby Union - but Mr Snedden the target may even be bettered. He repeated there would be no discounted tickets.

"People have put faith in us already and purchased tickets at face values, so I think we should stick with that. Secondly because I am actually really confident about what's happening.

"Over the last 10 weeks we've managed to sell $65 million worth of tickets.

"We have 10 weeks of solid selling still in front of us."

Since last weekend's Bledisloe test, $1 million in tickets had been sold, he said, and a flurry of sales were expected in the final build-up.

"There are going to be late sales and walk-ups on the day. That's something that always happens."

MEETING TARGET

* 1.08 million tickets sold, generating $234 million.
* Target is about 1.3 million ticket sales generating $268m revenue.
* Meeting the target would mean a $39 million loss to host the tournament, shared by the NZRU and the Government.
* Organisers will chase Aussies to boost ticket sales.

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