Rugby World Cup 2011: Hayley sings!

9 Aug 2011


Hayley Westenra and Will Martin will sing the anthems at the Rugby World Cup Final at Eden Park, Auckland New Zealand on 23 October 2011. This was announced officially by the organizers today and you can read full details here on the official website of the RWC 2011 - or see below for the complete article.

In a live interview today with Hayley about this on TVNZ's Close Up, Will Martin said "after playing Rock Paper Scissors with Hayley earlier on, and she won, so she'll be singing New Zealand's anthem if they are in the final..."

You can see the complete interview on the Close Up website here:

Here is a summary of what we know so far about Hayley's extensive involvement in this years's tournament, TV coverage, and the official song and album:

  • Hayley has recorded versions of the World In Union official song in five languages: English, Maori, French, Italian and Japanese.
  • The English version is the theme song of ITV's coverage of the RWC in the UK.
  • Hayley's World In Union will be played at every match in the RWC.
  • Hayley will sing one of the National Anthems before the final in Auckland (Will Martin the other).
  • If the All Blacks reach the final, Hayley will sing the NZ National anthem and Will Martin the other (they played paper scissors stone to decide!).
  • Hayley's World In Union will feature on the official RWC album World in Union in English and Maori. Her God Defend NZ and Pokarekare Ana feature too!
  • You can listen to Hayley's version of World In Union here on the RWC's official website: World In Union .mp3
  • UPDATE Good as the English version is, the Maori version is even better in a couple of important respects, listen to it here on the Universal NZ website!

Here is the full announcement from the official RWC website:

NZ voices to bring RWC 2011 anthems to life

  • Hayley Westenra and Will Martin confirmed for RWC 2011 Final

Hundreds of New Zealanders will give voice to the anthems for the 20 teams taking part in Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011), with the announcement of the Tournament’s anthem programme.

Tournament Organiser Rugby New Zealand 2011 (RNZ 2011) today confirmed that New Zealand performers Hayley Westenra and Will Martin will sing the anthems at the Final on October 23, and four other soloists will be confirmed to perform the anthems at the two semi-finals on October 15 and 16.

New Zealand vocalists will also be to the fore during all 48 matches with choirs performing the anthems at all 40 pool matches and at the eight play-off matches, supporting the soloists in the final three matches.

The choirs are a joint initiative between RNZ 2011 and the New Zealand Choral Federation (NZCF) and were created following a series of workshops around the country to audition, select and train the choristers.

The NZCF held 12 workshops throughout New Zealand and more than 1,000 people auditioned for the chance to sing anthems at matches. The choirs will each feature 30 singers and are made up of local singers at each venue.

The choirs will be backed by recordings of all 20 anthems by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

These recordings, which were made at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre in March 2011, were supported by the REAL New Zealand Festival Lottery Fund.

Slovakian conductor and composer Peter Breiner, an expert on anthems and their arrangements, arranged the music for all the anthems except the Irish and New Zealand anthems. The Irish arrangement was done by Steven Bremner and the New Zealand arrangement was by Anthony Ritchie. Peter Breiner shared the conductor role with Hamish McKeish.

Rugby New Zealand 2011 CEO Martin Snedden said the anthems are a core tradition for Rugby, with the first ever performance of anthems at sporting events associated with the historic 1905 match between the All Blacks and Wales in Cardiff.

“There is always strong interest in who will sing the anthems and how they will be performed and that’s especially the case for RWC 2011.

“We think Kiwis and visitors will be blown away by the collaboration between the NZSO, the best local choristers, and international soloists such as Hayley Westenra and Will Martin.”

Hayley Westenra, who has become a regular performer at major Rugby internationals around the world, said it was a great honour to be invited to perform at the RWC 2011 Final.

“I am so excited about coming back to New Zealand and the opportunity to sing at the new Eden Park for the ultimate Rugby event is truly a once-in-a lifetime chance for me. I have always enjoyed the opportunity to sing the anthems at these major events as there’s nothing like singing before one of these vast stadium crowds. I can’t wait.”

Westenra’s voice will be prominent throughout RWC 2011 through her recording of the official song, World in Union, which will be played at all 48 matches.  

The song can be heard here:

Her recording will also feature on the official Tournament album World in Union, which will be released by Universal Music in September comprising 20 tracks recorded by some of the world’s most recognisable operatic voices to celebrate this year’s largest sporting event.

Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The World in Union is the soundtrack to Rugby World Cup, an iconic song for the global Rugby family.  I am sure that Hayley Westenra’s rendition of World in Union will be extremely popular.”

Meanwhile, Westenra’s fellow Final anthem singer Will Martin said he was still fizzing about his role before the Tournament finale.

"It is the ultimate honour.  I'm really looking forward to it, but as the Final approaches I'll be on edge for sure.  There'll be plenty of nerves as we run out onto the pitch, just like with the players.  Bring on Game day!"

An announcement on artists chosen to sing anthems at the semi-finals will be made shortly.


You can read more about Hayley's theme song for ITV here in our earlier story.