Trophy completes Madagascan adventure

(ER 2015) Tuesday 8 July 2014
Trophy completes Madagascan adventure
Local schoolchildren in Antananarivo getting involved with the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour

The Webb Ellis Cup has completed the fourth leg of the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour, delivered in partnership with Land Rover and DHL, in Madagascar.

The Trophy went on a three day visit to Antananarivo between July 4 & 6 as part of the Trophy Tour, celebrating Rugby in the lead up to Rugby World Cup 2015 hosted in England and Cardiff. The visit also coincided with the final round of CAR Division 1A matches between Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya to decide which nation would book their place at Rugby World Cup 2015 as the Africa 1 qualifier.

The qualifiers culminated with Namibia beating hosts Madagascar 89-10 to secure their place in Pool C alongside New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Georgia.

Local children get involved

The Webb Ellis Cup was greeted with songs sung by over 1,000 children and a performance from the Madagascan national team of their pre-match ritual during a visit to the Father Pedro Foundation. This was followed by the players joining the children in a Rugby practice session.

Children from two schools, which are being supported by the UN World Food Programme, then played an exhibition match in front of the Trophy to help highlight the work that is being undertaken in the country to tackle hunger.

The Webb Ellis Cup drew large crowds wherever it went, including a visit to current national champions TFMA Rugby Club and a Get Into Rugby tournament. The Trophy was also the guest of honour for a reception hosted by the British Ambassador.

Remarkable passion

England Rugby 2015 Chief Executive, Debbie Jevans, said: "This has been another successful stop on the Rugby World Trophy Tour which has once again seen the Webb Ellis Cup welcomed in unique ways with pride and passion. We now know our nineteenth team to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2015 and we look forward to welcoming Namibia to England next year.”

On Land Rover's Least Driven Path, the Webb Ellis Cup journeyed out of Antananarivo to Lemur's Park where it was inquisitively watched by the country's indigenous ring-tailed lemurs. Land Rover continued deeper into the wild Madagascan terrain to the rural community of Antongona, where local children played Rugby in front of a picturesque backdrop and stood in awe of Rugby's most coveted prize.

Mark Cameron, Jaguar Land Rover Brand Experience Director, commented: "We at Land Rover are delighted that as part of the Least Driven Path activity the iconic Webb Ellis Cup has been transported somewhere it has never been before, particularly in a country like Madagascar which is fast developing as a Rugby playing nation. The passion shown for the Game, even in the most remote areas, is remarkable and we aim to continue to build on that passion around the world over the next 12 months."

Warm welcome

DHL customers and other invited guests, which included the Minister for Sport, had their opportunity to see the Webb Ellis Cup during an engagement event hosted at the new sorting facility in Antananarivo.

Mamy Rakotondraibe, Country Manager, DHL Express Madagascar, said: "We're very proud to have had the Webb Ellis Cup here with us in Madagascar as part of the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour, and delighted by the positive feedback and interest the Trophy received here.

"As a way of celebrating the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour, we hosted a special event at our head office, and had the Minister of Sport amongst others attend as a special guest to share the excitement of the Rugby World Cup Qualifier and show that the local support for Rugby is as strong as DHL's commitment to the game.”