The Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour kicked off on Tuesday with the Webb Ellis Cup leaving our fair shores en route to Japan for the first of 15 visits to countries around the world in the next 12 months.
The international Trophy Tour is the first of its kind and, in partnership with Land Rover and DHL, will see rugby’s most coveted prize travel to remote parts of the world as part of a celebration of Rugby in the lead up to Rugby World Cup 2015 in England.
The Webb Ellis Cup departed from East Midlands Airport, Leicestershire, after being driven onto the runway and carried onto the plane by Rugby World Cup 2003 winner and England Rugby 2015 Ambassador, Will Greenwood. Children from local schools and clubs including Leicester Forest RFC U11s, carrying flags representing each of the 15 destination countries, formed a guard of honour to send the Webb Ellis Cup off on its tour.
Will Greenwood said: “Having witnessed the excitement when we brought the Webb Ellis Cup back to England after winning Rugby World Cup 2003, it is now a great honour to send the Trophy off on its journey as we start to build the excitement for Rugby World Cup 2015. I have got no doubt that the Trophy will capture the imagination of loyal fans and people that are new to the Game as it travels around the world.”
In each destination, Land Rover will help to take the Webb Ellis Cup to a remote location it has never visited before where, in some countries, they are completely new to Rugby. Training sessions will be conducted to give people around the world the chance to experience the game.
The Japan leg is timed to coincide with the top-of-the-table Asian 5 Nations 2014 clash between Japan and Hong Kong, which is also the decisive qualifier for who will secure the Asia 1 spot at Rugby World Cup 2015. That match will be the final event at the iconic National Stadium in Tokyo before it is closed and rebuilt in time for Rugby World Cup 2019.
England Rugby 2015 Chief Executive, Debbie Jevans, said: “When we bid to host Rugby World Cup 2015 we made a commitment to excite audiences around the world about the event. The Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour is a great opportunity to celebrate the values of the Game with fans in both established and new rugby markets in the months leading up to the Tournament. As a future Rugby World Cup host and an emerging force in world rugby, Japan is a perfect first stop for the Trophy. We look forward to what promises to be a warm welcome in Tokyo.”
Brand Experience Director, Land Rover, Mark Cameron, said: “This is an exciting moment for everyone at Land Rover as we see the start to our sponsorship as Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2015. The Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour enables us to engage with our customers, staff and rugby fans around the world by showcasing our vehicles capabilities in each destination, driving the famous Webb Ellis Cup to places and communities it has never been to before. We look forward to being an integral part of these celebrations as excitement builds towards next year’s tournament and Japan is a great place to start.”
Chief Executive of DHL Global, Ken Allen, said: “DHL is proud to be a partner of the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour and to be sending this precious silverware from DHL’s UK hub via our extensive network, once again showcasing DHL’s commitment to supporting rugby globally. We’re excited to be taking the Webb Ellis Cup to both rugby heartlands and emerging rugby nations such as Japan, celebrating Rugby with fans around the world and building anticipation for next year’s Rugby World Cup.”