Fiji gives Webb Ellis Cup fitting send-off
The Webb Ellis Cup has completed the third leg of the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour in Fiji, delivered in partnership with Land Rover and DHL.
The Trophy went on a three day visit to Fiji between June 26 & 28, celebrating Rugby in the lead up to Rugby World Cup 2015 which will be hosted in England and Cardiff next year. The Tour also coincided with an all-important RWC 2015 qualifier which saw Fiji beat the Cook Islands 108 – 6 to secure the Oceania 1 qualifier spot in Pool A alongside Australia, England, Wales and the Play Off winner, to be decided later this year.
After a traditional Fijian welcome at the Ratu Navula Secondary School in Nadi, the Webb Ellis Cup visited schools, clubs and communities across the island, including remote locations Naivucini and Nadarivatu thanks to Land Rover's least Driven Path initiative. Former Fijian Internationals Viliame Satala and Alifereti Doviverata also joined the Tour, running coaching sessions, meeting locals, explaining the story of the Webb Ellis Cup and exciting youngsters ahead of next year's tournament.
Jaguar Land Rover Brand Experience Director, Mark Cameron, said: "Our Least Driven Path activity aims to take the famous Webb Ellis Cup to remote places, and this week was a fantastic opportunity for Land Rover to take the Trophy right into the heart of the island and reach communities who would never otherwise get a chance to see it. The response we had from the different villages was incredible and has certainly shown just how much passion there is for Rugby."
Bringing people together
Whilst in Suva, Rugby went head-to-head with netball as DHL's Rugby vs The World Challenge kicked off at Raiwaqa Rugby Club. New Zealand's Rugby World Cup 2011 winner John Afoa competed against Fijian Pearls' Maria Lutua in a series of challenges which saw Rugby victorious with a little help from the local team.
Country Manager DHL Express Fiji, Mark Komene, said: "Rugby has a way of uniting communities through camaraderie and the love of the game. Our partnership with Raiwaqa Rugby Club brought over 700 people from around the area together to enjoy our entertaining challenges staged between former New Zealand player John Afoa and champion goal shoot Maria Lutua of the Fijian Pearls Netball team, with Rugby the winner on the day. We are proud to have played a part in bringing the Webb Ellis Cup, Rugby's greatest prize, to Fiji for so many to experience up close."
After the Trophy was officially hosted by the British High Commission, it made its way to Churchill Park where it was the main attraction ahead of the match which saw the eighteenth team qualify for RWC 2015.
England Rugby 2015 CEO, Debbie Jevans, said: "The Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour in Fiji was hugely successful and gave us the opportunity to engage with many communities, schools and clubs. Fiji is very passionate about the Game and we have been touched by the warm welcome given to the Trophy and to the Tour as we moved across the island. We now know that England and Fiji will play in the opening match of RWC 2015 at Twickenham Stadium and can look forward to a fantastic start to the tournament."
Next stop Madagascar
The Webb Ellis Cup will now travel to Madagascar for a three day visit between July 4 & 6, which will culminate with the RWC 2015 qualifiers for Africa 1. The winner of CAR Division 1A, involving Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia and Zimbabwe will join New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, and Georgia in Pool C.
- South Africa
- New Zealand