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Muscle takes over from music

other Updated: Sep 09, 2011 23:29 IST
Highlight Story

The curtain rose at the rugby World Cup on Friday with a visually stunning opening ceremony watched by an estimated worldwide audience of one billion people.

A glittering sea of mobile phones and cameras greeted television viewers around the world as the almost 60,000-strong Eden Park crowd lit up the countdown to the start of the festivities.

A traditional Maori call of welcome, known as the karanga, opened the ceremony, followed by a highly energetic performance featuring dancers, singers, fireworks and a dazzling light show.

The ceremony was themed around the concept of a journey, with travellers from the four corners of the earth embarking on a journey together that ends at Auckland as teams prepare to battle for rugby's ultimate prize.

The largest roar of the opening was reserved for former All Black and World Cup legend Jonah Lomu as the ceremony concluded with the tournament anthem, World in Union.

The first game of the World Cup, between hosts New Zealand and Tonga, kicked off at the conclusion of the opening ceremony, the All Blacks winning 41-10.

The opening ceremony capped a carnival-like atmosphere along the Auckland waterfront.