The New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Korea, known as “The Kiwi Chamber,” and the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Korea, “AustCham,” hosted “The Rugby Charity Dinner,” with rugby legends Sean Fitzpatrick and Eddie Jones yesterday evening at the Grand Hyatt Hotel’s Grand Ballroom under the sponsorship of DHL.
The charity event was an overwhelming success with over 400 in attendance and featured the professional New Zealand kapa haka group Pounamu, which entertained guests with an inspired traditional Maori performance.
Thanking the two chambers and all for their efforts on behalf of Christchurch earthquake support, New Zealand Ambassador Richard Mann commented, “I am honoured that two legends of rugby would visit Korea on behalf of this important event ahead of the Rugby World Cup 2011.”
Demonstrating true ANZAC spirit, AustCham and the Australian business community put their full effort behind the event during their Year of Friendship with Korea. Australian Ambassador Sam Gerovich also thanked the New Zealand and Australian chambers and said, “I wish New Zealand the best for the Rugby World Cup 2011, as you deserve success.”
Justin Sampson, an ESPN Star Sports rugby commentator of 11 years and master of ceremonies for the evening, led a Q&A session with the two rugby legends who discussed rugby, this year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and the growth and development of the sport in Korea and Asia.
“The Rugby World Cup is the third biggest sporting event outside of the Olympics and FIFA World Cup,” announced Sean Fitzpatrick, an official New Zealand ambassador for the Rugby World Cup and former captain of New Zealand’s national team, the All Blacks. He noted the successful event showed that New Zealand is a “can-do nation.”
Eddie Jones, former head coach of the Australian national team, the Wallabies, and current general manager and head coach of Suntory Sungoliath in Japan, stressed “Rugby continues to grow as sport globally and in Asia and the Korean teams are physical and fast with an opportunity to get much better.”
Following a touching and uplifting message from New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, more than KRW 105.5 million was raised through an auction, a raffle and donations, with KRW 66.0 million going to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal and KRW 39.5 going to Japan-linked charities. In a remarkable display of generosity, “The Reebok Ultimate Sporting Weekend,” which includes two return business class tickets on Emirates, a two-night W Hotel stay and a chance to watch NFL, NBA and NHL games in Boston from VIP seating, raised KRW 24.5 million. In other auctions, two Rugby World Cup tickets donated by DHL and a rugby ball and jersey signed by Sean Fitzpatrick and Eddie Jones pulled in KRW 1.2 million and KRW 10 million, respectively, while a special event sculpture carved by Ms. Jin Lee out of special New Zealand Oamaru limestone took in KRW 5.5 million.
To acknowledge the recent tragedy in Japan, the adidas-donated “Fevernova Crystal Ball,” a rare 14-karat gold-plated official 2002 FIFA World Cup match ball with the Korean and Japanese flags and official FIFA logo, was the top auction prize, bringing in KRW 39 million, of which went to 50% to Save the Children and 50% to adidas’s Japan-linked charity work. An adidas-provided signed All Blacks jersey also fetched KRW 5.7 million, while a Canterbury Crusaders jersey with a special message from current All Blacks captain Richie McCaw went for KRW 4.5 million.
Additional funds were raised through auction and the raffle of air tickets to Hong Kong, hotel vouchers, golf gear, coffee machines, wine, mobile phones and meat trays. The event featured a fabulous three-course dinner with wine and beverages from both New Zealand and Australia.