WORLD Cup fever in Rugby kicks off in earnest on Friday afternoon (September 18) when a street party marks the beginning of the long-awaited tournament.
From 4pm to late, the town centre will see live bands, family entertainment, the screening of England’s opening game, special guest Shaun the Sheep, and a surprise or two as the eyes of the world focus on the birthplace of the game.
Live music from Dukes Jetty, Paper Street Soap Company and Speak, Brother will get the party started, performing a mixture of classic Beatle-style harmonies, catchy indie tunes, covers and Rugby’s official song for the world cup, Lions Roar.
Other attractions include the Guinness World Record rugby freestyle champion, stilt-walkers, Haka performances, children’s entertainers, tag Rugby, and special guests from Wasps RFC.
Organisers have also cryptically promised to “bring the Webb Ellis statue to life”.
The Rugby Fanzone big screen – which, at 5m x 3m, is Rugby’s largest – will burst into life screening the official opening ceremony (7pm) and England’s first game against Fiji live from Twickenham (8pm).
The Fanzone’s Scrum Down bar – also the biggest in the town – will serve cold beers while Hillmorton Community Choir warms up the crowd with inspirational rugby anthems.
Smoking Buns will serve up US style burgers, NY hot dogs and smokey pulled pork.
The Fanzone will show a total of 17 live matches on its five-metre-wide screen during the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Enjoy Rugby Festival continues this week with a performance of Grav (a one-man biographical drama of Welsh rugger star and actor Ray Gravell), a charity celebration dinner with Scotland legend Gavin Hastings, an illustrated lecture on contemporary embroidery, a gig by chart rockers Mallory Knox, and the opening of Rugby’s Food and Drink Festival 2015.
Visit www.enjoyrugby.co.uk or the Rugby Visitor Centre in Rugby Library for a copy of the Enjoy Rugby Festival guide, including all events and matches being screened in the Fanzone.
* FREE parking will be on offer at the John Barford multi-story car park throughout Rugby’s World Cup celebrations.
The car park – adjacent to the Rugby Village/Fanzone, will be free after 12 noon until 6 November, when the town’s Enjoy Rugby Festival ends.
Opening hours have also been extended to include Sunday opening, when parking will be £1 in the mornings and free after 12 noon.