Invercargill swoons as Scotland sing
INVERCARGILL, 8 Sept. - Scotland dazzled the Murihiku community with their singing skills as the south island officially welcomed the last team to arrive for Rugby World Cup 2011 on Thursday.
Their voices floated in perfect harmony across Te Rau Aroha marae as the Scots serenaded the crowd with Scottish folk song Caledonia. Before the applause had faded, they followed suit with a rousing Flower of Scotland, the national anthem.
"There are a lot of similarities between our cultures and our races," said Scotland team manager Dougie Potter.
"We're both proud warriors and we both like singing about our victories.
"Hopefully we'll be doing seven victory songs before we leave New Zealand."
Team captain Alastair Kellock was overwhelmed by the welcome, which began on the path in front of the marae overlooking Bluff Harbour.
"I feel really privileged to be here," said Kellock. "It's something that none of us will ever forget."
The Scots were ushered into the marae with a karanga and haka powhiri. Clad in demure black sweaters and black and grey tartan trousers, they were prepared for the cold wind, but not the warm welcome.
"It's been amazing," said Chris Paterson, who is competing at his fourth Rugby World Cup.
The 33-year-old received his RWC 2011 cap during an official ceremony.
"After 12 years, I still want to do the same thing. Try my best and make my best," said the 105 Test veteran who holds the record for Scotland caps and points scored for his nation.
In welcoming the team to the seventh Rugby World Cup, Sir Tipene O'Regan, Ngai Tahu elder, said Invercargill's Scottish heritage played a large part in the team's reception.
"You come from a part of Europe that's famous for its mists and mountains," he said. "So too are we at Murihiku."
Rugby World Cup Limited director Bill Beaumont said all 20 teams competing in New Zealand were overwhelmed by the country's hospitality, not just Scotland.
"It's a warm nation," he said. "It's a proud nation. We've been overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome, the excitement about rugby.
"It really is a stadium of four million," he said, in reference to New Zealand's promise that RWC 2011 would be watched and supported by its entire population.
Local resident Kayla Horler, age nine, is one of those four million supporters.
"Rugby's actually quite a good game to watch," she said. "It was really exciting meeting the team and knowing they're going to be playing rugby right here."
Scotland meet Romania in their Pool B opener on Saturday at 13:00.