RWC 2007 dedicated to 'Tackle Hunger'
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed the dedication of Rugby World Cup 2007 to "Tackle Hunger" - a campaign which aims to raise public awareness about the 850 million people around the world who know what it is like to go hungry.
WFP's humanitarian partner, the International Rugby Board (IRB), announced today in Paris the dedication of the tournament to "Tackle Hunger", just days before the opening match of the Rugby World Cup in France.
"The huge numbers of people attending matches and watching rugby on television over the next few weeks make the Rugby World Cup an incredibly powerful platform for informing a broad audience about global hunger," said John M. Powell, deputy executive director of the World Food Programme.
Helping the hungry
By tapping into this global fan base through the "Tackle Hunger" campaign, WFP has been able to increase understanding about its work helping millions of hungry people in the poorest parts of the world.
The Rugby World Cup is the third biggest sporting event in the world after the Olympic Games and the Football World Cup. More than 2 million tickets have been sold for the event, and a television audience estimated at 4 billion people is expected to tune in during the six week course of the tournament, which runs from 7 September to 20 October.
"The World Food Programme has been the humanitarian partner of the IRB for four years and together we have developed the Tackle Hunger programme that assists WFP to communicate the important work it does for the global community," said Dr Syd Millar, Chairman IRB.
"Rugby is proud of its traditions and sense of fair play and it is fitting that we should support such a worthy cause."
The French national team coach, Bernard Laporte, will be playing a key role in promoting 'Tackle Hunger' during the Rugby World Cup in France. Laporte is featured in a series of television and print advertisements conceived to raise awareness about global hunger.
These are appearing for the duration of the tournament on French and international television channels, and will also be placed in newspapers and magazines.
The "Tackle Hunger" partnership was launched at Rugby World Cup 2003 in Australia, where it was supported by former world cup winning captains, including Nick Farr-Jones and John Eales from Australia, and David Kirk from New Zealand.
In his role as a key member of the "Tackle Hunger" team, Farr-Jones has visited WFP projects in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2005, he toured Banda Aceh province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra that was devastated by the Asian tsunami.
The IRB itself staged a fundraising match at Twickenham in 2005 between teams of international players from the northern and southern hemispheres. It raised more than US$3 million that was donated towards WFP's relief and reconstruction work in areas hit by the Asian tsunami.
The dedication of Rugby World Cup 2007 to "Tackle Hunger" completes a "hat-trick" of sporting dedications to WFP this year.
In April, the world marathon record holder and WFP Hunger Ambassador, Paul Tergat, dedicated his race in the Flora London Marathon to WFP. Then in May, the AC Milan footballer, Kaka – another WFP Ambassador - dedicated his appearance in the UEFA Champions League Final to the cause of hungry children.
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