2015 Rugby World Cup kicks off

8:52 am on 19 September 2015

The Rugby World Cup has kicked off with a bang at Twickenham, with more than 80,000 fans witnessing the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony of the 2015 World Cup.

The opening ceremony of the 2015 World Cup. Photo: AFP

The 20 minute performance was produced by Sara Donaldson and featured the work of more than 150 volunteers.

It told the story of the birth of the game of rugby with English schoolboy Edward Anthony playing a starring role as William Webb Ellis, who the tournament trophy is named for.

After a performance of the World Cup's official song World in Union, a legend from each of the 20 participating nations appeared in the middle of the Twickenham pitch.

Former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick represented New Zealand and received a warm reception, but it was nothing compared to the ovation reserved for the former England captain and World Cup winner Martin Johnson.

Another ovation followed for Prince Harry, who spoke to the crowd, before the World Rugby chairman, Bernard Lapasset, declared the tournament officially open, ending by saying "let the tournament begin".

Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Chairman of World Rugby Bernard Lapasset and Honorary President of England Rugby 2015 Britain's Prince Harry attend the opening ceremony of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Chairman of World Rugby Bernard Lapasset and Honorary President of England Rugby 2015 Britain's Prince Harry attend the opening ceremony of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photo: AFP

The ceremony ended with the cast pulling up part of the stage to reveal two carved faces representing England and Fiji as fireworks soared from the roof of the home of rugby.

There will be live commentary of all of the Rugby World Cup Games in our dedicated Rugby World Cup section

The tournament, which runs until 31 October, will take place in stadiums across England and at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Prince Harry delivers a speech next to the Webb Ellis Cup during the opening ceremony.

Prince Harry delivers a speech next to the Webb Ellis Cup during the opening ceremony. Photo: AFP

About 2.3 of the 2.45 million tickets available have been sold for 48 games.

Meanwhile, fans have packed out the Fox sports bar at Auckland's Viaduct Harbour to watch the first Rugby World Cup game between England and Fiji.

England fans Clint Martin, Dion kidd and James Arnold at the Fox in Auckland this morning.

England fans Clint Martin, Dion kidd and James Arnold at the Fox in Auckland this morning. Photo: Anusha Bradley / RNZ

The police are patrolling bars throughout the Viaduct making sure those that are open are complying with the strict conditions imposed during the tournament.

New Zealand's first game is against Argentina on Monday morning.

Former England rugby international Jonny Wilkinson carries the Webb Ellis Cup between crowds prior to the opening ceremony.

Former England rugby international Jonny Wilkinson carries the Webb Ellis Cup between crowds prior to the opening ceremony. Photo: AFP

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