Beaumont enjoys the common touch
WELLINGTON, 5 Sept. - For former England and Lions captain Bill Beaumont, seeing Wales attending Sunday's welcome ceremony at Porirua was a return to one of the game's traditional strengths.
Now a director of Rugby World Cup Limited, he said the organisers of Rugby World Cup 2011 had put a strong emphasis on getting teams back out into the community, as touring teams once did before professionalism led to the jet-set tours.
"They just come out, play a Test and disappear, don't they?" he said of the modern-day game.
But Beaumont hailed the British and Irish Lions, who tour every four years to either South Africa, New Zealand or Australia.
"The Lions would still do this, get out and about, but they are probably the only touring team who do," he said.
At the first Rugby World Cup in 1987, he said the players "had a big dinner, got their caps and all disappeared", but encouraging teams to go into the community had now become a World Cup tradition.
"The directive is that we do this early in the tour. We did it in France as well," he said.
"I think it's important. Rugby's part of the culture of New Zealand and players appreciate it.
"You come here to Porirua and many people have put in a lot of hard work into it. For them, it's the highlight of the World Cup, getting a team like Wales to come."
Despite his own decorated playing career, Beaumont is realistic about how he and his fellow players from the amateur era would have fared at a World Cup.
"I'd love to have played in a World Cup, but probably not with some of the England teams who I played for - we'd be lucky to get through the pool stages."