IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 Draw, Tower Bridge, London 1/12/2008 The William Webb Ellis Trophy Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Getty Images

I know that this blog is usually about all manner of things demographic but today there can only be one thing on the mind – the start of the Rugby World Cup 2011 here in New Zealand.  At about 4pm this evening festivities will get underway here in Auckland, followed by the opening ceremony and the first game later on tonight. I am lucky enough to have been given a ticket to this first game, New Zealand vs Tonga, and needless to say I am very excited! Thousands of extra visitors have been pouring into New Zealand over the last few days and Auckland is absolutely buzzing!

Of course, I’m hoping for a New Zealand victory, but there are four other teams who could easily go on to win it instead – England, France, Australia and South Africa. Although Ireland and Wales might also claim to be in that group, I can’t realistically see them progress past the quarter-finals. More important than a New Zealand victory however, is that New Zealand hosts a great tournament and showcases itself to the rugby world. So if you are visiting NZ over the next few weeks: Welcome! May you have a fantastic and safe stay here!

Marcus Roberts is a Senior Researcher at the Maxim Institute in Auckland, New Zealand, and was co-editor of the former MercatorNet blog, Demography is Destiny. Marcus has a background in the law, both...