AS many as 5,000 fans will travel from Ireland to New Zealand for this year’s Rugby World Cup, which gets under way on Friday.
Reports suggested that no more than 1,500 fans would make the journey to support Declan Kidney’s team, but the latest analysis of Rugby New Zealand (RNZ) 2011 ticket sales shows up to 5,000 will take the trip.
It is also thought that another 5,000 to 10,000 Irish supporters living in New Zealand and other countries will also travel to cheer on the men in green.
RNZ 2011 Mike Jaspers said: “Best estimates currently are that 25,000 fans will travel from the UK and Ireland, based on updated ticket sales data.
“That includes around 5,000 fans based in Ireland, but doesn’t include the other Irish diaspora. There must be many in Australia we think too.”
After months of planning, die-hard Irish fans heading to the competition have already begun their journeys ahead of Ireland’s first match against Eddie O’Sullivan’s USA next Sunday.
Each supporter is expected spend an average of €5,000 on their trips, while those who opted for organised package trips are spending up to €10,000.
Elaine Blackshields from Cork, who will fly out from Dublin tonight, said she began planning her trip about three years ago and will spend almost two months in New Zealand.
“First I checked the dates and decided with the three buddies I am going with, how long we would go for. Then I checked all the different campervan companies in NZ to see if any would take bookings that early. We booked and paid for our van back in June 2009.
“It will probably have cost me €5,000 to €6,000 by the end of the two months.”
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