New Zealand has won the right to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup after Thursday's vote by members of the International Rugby Board's Council at the Radisson Hotel in Dublin.
IRB Chairman Dr. Syd Millar made the announcement on Thursday afternoon after the Kiwi delegation, surpported by Prime Minister Helen Clarke and All Blacks captain Tana Umaga, had beaten Japan and South Africa in a secret ballot.
Former Ireland and Lions prop Millar said: "I would like to congratulate New Zealand - a great rugby nation.
"We received three excellent tenders of the highest quality. Any one of the three could have hosted the tournament."
It is the second time that New Zealand will host the showpiece tournament - the Land of the Long White Cloud staged the inaugural World Cup alongside Australia in 1987, with the All Blacks lifting the trophy in the process (for their only success to date).
Ballymena man Millar managed Ireland at the '87 World Cup.
New Zealand Rugby Union Chairman Jock Hobbs said: "We will now begin the process of delivering on the promises we have made in our bid, but not before we take some time to celebrate this achievement.
"We are grateful to the New Zealand Government for their total support to this bid. We would also like to thank the IRB and the national and regional Unions worldwide for granting us this opportunity and trusting New Zealand with its showcase event. I think today's decision recognises the importance of, and vital role played by, smaller counties in world rugby."
The first round of voting saw the South African bid, led by 1995 World Cup-winning captain Francois Pienaar, surprisingly eliminated. That left just Japan, who topped a recent irishrugby.ie poll on who should host the 2011 event, to battle it out with New Zealand.
The Kiwis were victorious in the final round, making up in some way for the disappointment of 2003 when they had been due to co-host the World Cup tournament with neighbours Australia before being stripped of that right by the IRB due to a row over stadium advertising.
The 50,000-capacity Eden Park staged the '87 World Cup final, which the All Blacks won 29-9 against France, and with the NZ bid successful for 2011, the Auckland stadium will undergo an upgrade to cater for 60,000 spectators.
Eden Park is likely to stage the 2011 final with New Zealand's other venues - the Waikato Stadium (Hamilton) (25,800), Westpac Stadium (Wellington) (35,000), Lancaster Park (Christchurch) (36,500), and Carisbrook (Dunedin's "House of Pain") (38,000) - struggling in the capacity stakes.
2011 WORLD CUP BID NATION FACTS:
Winners: New Zealand - Population: 4.1 million; Registered Players: 137,961; Member Unions: 27; Affiliated Clubs: 400; Professional Franchises: Blues (Auckland), Chiefs (Waikato), Hurricanes (Wellington), Crusaders (Canterbury), Highlanders (Otago).
Main Stadiums: Waikato Stadium (Hamilton) (25,800), Westpac Stadium (Wellington) (35,000), Lancaster Park (Christchurch) (36,500), Carisbrook (Dunedin) (38,000). Proposed Final Venue: Eden Park (Auckland) (50,000 - 60,000 by 2011).
Runners-up: Japan - Population: 127 million; Registered Players: 126,000; Affiliated Clubs: 4050.
Main Stadiums: Niigata "Big Swan" Stadium (Niigata) (42,700), Nagai Stadium (Osaka) (49,500), Kobe Wing Stadium (Kobe) (42,500), Oita Big Eye Stadium (Oita) (43,300). Proposed Final Venue: Nissan Stadium (Yokohama) (72,370).
Third: South Africa - Poupulation: 44 million; Senior Players: 60,000; Provinces: 14; Affiliated Clubs: 1100; Super 14 Franchises: Bulls (Pretoria), Cats (Johannesburg), Central Cheetahs, Sharks (Natal), Stormers (Cape Town).
Main Stadiums: King's Park (Durban) (64,000 by 2011), Ellis Park (Johannesburg) (64,000), Four more venues of 42,000 or more, plus two of 20,000. Proposed Final Venue: FNB Stadium (Johannesburg) (101,000).