Louise Duffy ©RapidTVNews | 12-09-2011

One of the largest ever television audiences in New Zealand watched the opening night of the Rugby World Cup, with nearly every household tuning in.

A combined audience of 1,635,780 watched the live broadcast of the All Blacks v Tonga, the opening match at Eden Park on TV ONE, Maori Television, and Sky Sport 1, according to tournament organiser Rugby New Zealand 2011.

Just over 1 million people watched on TV1, 443,000 on Sky Sport 1, and a further 178,000 on Maori TV. This number does not include the delayed broadcasts on TV3 and other mediums. More than 1 million people watched the opening ceremony on Friday.

Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden said: "That is an absolutely incredible number, especially when you consider that the total potential television audience in New Zealand is 1.9 million households, and some 200,000 people were in central Auckland and another 60,000 were at Eden Park, plus thousands more watching live in Fanzones across the country."

Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman, Bernard Lapasset said: "These excellent figures truly show that New Zealanders are right behind the tournament."