Royalty on Dunedin's rugby field

New Zealand rugby royalty joined 8000 fans to meet Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Rugby royalty

The royal couple were welcomed by All Black captain Richie McCaw to a mini tournament of Rippa Rugby. New Zealand’s only permanently covered stadium is used to hosting big events, but when the royals arrived, the atmosphere was electric.

The Duke is a big fan of Rugby Union and has met McCaw on several occasions, although this time it wasn’t for a test match, but to show them how Kiwis turn small blacks into All Blacks.

Teams of youngsters ripped up the field amid cheers and drums beating and when the royal couple arrived, the Duke kicked off the final between the red (Team Duke) and white (Team Duchess) teams. This time it was the Duke’s turn to win, and both junior teams got to line up and high-five the royals before being presented with medals.

Most popular sport

Rugby is New Zealand’s most popular sport and the All Blacks currently hold the Rugby World Cup which they will defend next year in the UK.

But to get to that level many Kiwi kids get their first taste of the physically demanding game through Rippa Rugby - a non-contact version that is a safe introduction for girls and boys from around age five. It is played by mixed seven-a-side teams with simplified rugby rules: instead of tackling, players rip velcro-fastened tags from each other’s waists.

The All Blacks will take on England on 14 June in the Dunedin stadium - the only covered stadium in the world that has real growing grass thanks to its ground-breaking transparent roof technology.

Little taste of Scotland

Dunedin is a little taste of Scotland settled in New Zealand’s deep south. Planned in the 1840s as a Scottish settlement, it was the discovery of gold in the 1860s that really put Dunedin on the map.

Stunning Otago Peninsula is the nesting ground for the little blue penguin and the southern hemisphere’s only mainland albatross colony.

Cycle tours are also popular - especially with the new electric pedal bikes to assist the time-poor (or unfit) traveller who wants to explore this unique and rugged coastline and breathe the fresh, crisp sea air.

More information

Rippa Rugby - ‘small blacks’ to All Blacks