Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Springbok rugby fans can look forward to a mid-morning World Cup after the International Rugby Board released the kick-off times for next year’s World Cup in New Zealand.
The Boks will need to get used to playing night games, as most of their pool matches have been scheduled for a late (in South African terms) 20:30 kick-off.
Translated across the time zones, this means the Boks will be playing at 10:30 South African time, which is a lot better than some of the red eye games that fans outside the Antipodes will have to deal with.
The Boks will kick off their campaign against Wales on Sunday, September 11 in Wellington as the late game, before facing Fiji on Saturday, September 17 at the same stadium, albeit an earlier 08:00 start.
Five days later the Boks face neighbours Namibia at the North Harbour stadium, this time at 10:00 South African time before heading for their 10:30 kick-off time against Samoa at the same venue on Friday, September 30.
If the Boks win their pool, their quarter-final is likely to be Ireland or Australia, whoever finishes second in Pool C, and the game is set for an 08:00 kick-off in Wellington.
Should the Boks overcome this hurdle, they have a probable date with hosts New Zealand in Auckland on Sunday, October 16, with an 11:00 SA time kick-off, while the final will take place on Sunday, October 23 also with an 11:00 kick-off.
The opening game of the tournament and opening ceremony will take place on Friday, September 9 at 19:45 local time, which is 09:45 South African time, with the opening game between the All Blacks and Tonga kicking off 45 minutes later.
Most early games will kick off at 15:30 NZ time (05:30 SA time), with a few getting an earlier 13:00 (03:00 SA time starting slot).
“We have achieved a good balance,” said Martin Snedden, CEO for Tournament Organisers Rugby New Zealand 2011.
“If New Zealand is to make the most of the platform RWC 2011 gives us to showcase our country to the world, then we need to ensure we maximise the global television audience for key matches.
“What has now been agreed with event-owner Rugby World Cup Limited will help all hosting regions to promote themselves to the world and help fans, both domestic and international, to get on with planning their RWC 2011 experience with the start of the Tournament now less than a year away."
“The mix of match times should really contribute to the whole festival atmosphere of the Tournament. Ten of the 48 matches will be played in the afternoon including the New Zealand v Canada pool match. A further 12 matches will begin by 18:00 and another seven at 19:30,” added Snedden.
The Boks will be based in Wellington, Taupo and Auckland for the duration of the seven week tournament.
Springbok Group D kick-off times:
Sunday, September - 11 SA v Wales, Wellington 10.30 SA time
Saturday, September - 17 SA v Fiji, Wellington - 8:00 SA time
Thursday,, September - 22 SA v Namibia, North Harbour - 10:00 SA time)
Friday September - 30 SA v Samoa, North Harbour - 10.30 SA time
Saturday, October 8 - quarter-final 1, Winner Pool C v Runner-up Pool D, Wellington - 08:00 SA time
Sunday, October 9 - quarter-final 3, Winner Pool D v Runner up Pool C, Wellington - 08:00 SA time
Saturday, October 15 - semifinal 1, Auckland) - 11:00 SA time
Sunday, October 16 - semi-final 2, Auckland - 11:00 SA time
Sunday, October 23 - Final, Auckland - 11:00 SA time