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Pop CultureOctober 10, 2022

Everything you missed from Rita Ora’s Rugby World Cup performance

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Annoyed that the television gods cut the big Rugby World Cup half time show? The Spinoff’s resident Rita Ora correspondents fill you in on everything you missed.

Things started out so well for Rita Ora. In September it was announced that our favourite unruly tourist would be returning to our shores, except this time she would be eschewing jaywalking and “smoking thin ciggies” for singing and maybe even dancing in the halftime show on the opening day of the Rugby World Cup. It would be a “Super Bowl-style” performance that would “light up the stage” and inspire young people to “pursue their dreams and aspirations”.

Unfortunately, those who were watching at home were treated to nothing but an inspiring series of advertisements, including quite a good deal on white bread ($1.15) at The Warehouse. Turns out that Ora’s halftime performance was brutally cut from the televised broadcast due to rights issues, with Spark Sport presenter Narelle Sindos telling viewers that organisers “have not been able to secure the necessary permission” to show the performance. Although delighted with the cheap bread, fans were furious. 

“I was really looking forward to it,” humble Kiwi punter Corinne Oliver told Stuff, “I was thinking it was going to be like how American’s have their big halftime shows.” Luckily for those who were robbed of the experience at home, The Spinoff deployed several Rita Ora correspondents across Eden Park on Saturday night, tactically positioned in the cheap seats, a corporate box and the line for hot mini donuts to bring you this: everything you missed from Rita Ora’s live show at the Rugby World Cup.

Rita crouched

Much like the Super Bowl halftime shows that are very much made to be watched on the telly, the view from the stands was quite different to the view from the camera. Though now we know the cameras aired absolutely nothing on the telly, what was the point of filming???

As her backup dancers lined up for a big camera reveal, those of us in the stands were treated to the unique view of Ora crouching on the field behind the dancers, waiting to make her entrance. Unfortunately we were too busy shrieking to take a photo. / Madeleine Chapman

Rita took us anywhnywhere

Photo: Nicole Browne

Captures the chaos quite well. / Alex Casey

Taika Waititi introduced Rita – at length

When it came to halftime, it genuinely seemed like Taika Waititi stormed the field in an unplanned (or very hastily planned) introduction for his beloved. But first, a joke. “I just want to give a quick shout out to those rugby coaches who said I would never make it to Eden Park,” he bellowed, “IN YOUR FACE”. He yarned about the irony of being a man hogging the mic on such a momentous night for women, before one of his daughters grabbed the mic and said that the jersey handout was “all me”.

What was even weirder was is that Taika seemed to just… keep… on… talking. “Listen. I’m just going to get off the field,” he threatened. “I said I just wanted to introduce Rita, so I want to do that. I would love to introduce a wonderful, wonderful, special, person in my life, Rita Ora, she’s going to sing another song.” OK? “But before that something equally as special to me is this performance here: we have the Pātea Māori Club.” OK! / AC

She absolutely sung live

As The Spinoff’s self-appointed lip sync correspondent/narc, I am glad to report that Rita Ora’s mic was definitely turned on throughout the performance(s) and she was singing all three of her songs (‘Let You Love Me’, ‘Anywhere’, and ‘For You’). Unfortunately/fortunately, depending on your One Direction preferences, Liam Payne was not present for ‘For You’, as seen in this fan video from YouTuber Aleisha Online.

At an outdoor event like this, where the weather is not certain and the quality of the audio is not guaranteed, it would be an understandable choice to lip-sync. I’m happy to report Rita Ora used her entirely competent and consistent voice to sing all three of her songs, and was unfairly cut off when she tried to give thank yous afterwards (as also seen in Aleisha Online’s reporting) and resorted to the customary bows. Rita, you’ll always be an Ora to me. / Sam Brooks

She was ‘tiny’

“She’s tiny” muttered a man swaggering around with a beer behind us in the stands as Rita began to rip into her halftime show. Far be it from me to comment on a woman’s body, but given that she was roughly 120 metres away from us, I feel comfortable agreeing that she was absolutely tiny by any conceivable modern metric. A popstar for ants. / AC

Big kebab or tiny pop star? (Photo: Alex Casey)

She was also ‘beautiful’

A man in a corporate box muttered this word as she performed. No further comment. / MC

But she needed to ‘sing up’

We were sitting in the east stand so had a pretty good view, but the sound was pretty murky to be honest – I couldn’t really make out any words, or the tune. My 8-year-old Iggy nudged me in the ribs and very politely said “she needs to sing up a bit eh?” I couldn’t really tell what was going on, but I like a bit of bewilderment in my spectacle so I was into it. / Toby Morris

She had a jewel-encrusted ‘R’ on her knickers

What could it possibly mean? Rugby? Ruck? Ruby (Tui)? / AC

The hot mini donuts were divine

Standing in line for mini donuts, I heard some pretty loud music and realised I was missing out on the big pre-show. Based on Toby’s review of the murky sound, what I thought was muffled by the concourse turns out may have just been the whole thing? I’m glad I waited in line because the donuts were great. Worth it. (We did manage to catch a bit of the half-time show, which sounded exactly as poor as it did back at the donut stand.) / Ben Gracewood

She posted this on Instagram afterwards


Did our Rita think she was performing at the final of the Rugby World Cup, rather than the opening? Or, as our wise editor Mad Chapman charitably pointed out, was she simply referring to the fact it was final match of that day? So many questions, so few answers, so eternally unruly. Never change, Rita. / AC

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