Webb Ellis Cup on show in Luxembourg
The famous Webb Ellis Cup will be on display at the Stade Josy Barthel in Luxembourg on Saturday as the home team takes on Israel in the latest round of European qualification for Rugby World Cup 2015.
The iconic trophy has been making a number of other appearances around the land-locked country as locals look forward to their huge game on Saturday. A number of European Union buildings have hosted the Cup while RWC Worldwide Partner Société Générale threw a party on Thursday to commemorate 120 years of the bank in Luxembourg and the Cup was a guest of honour.
On form – and on the IRB World Rankings – 48th-placed Israel have the advantage over 92nd-ranked Luxembourg but organisers are expecting a local crowd in excess of 1,000 to cheer on the home team.
And it’s worth pointing out that Luxembourg have already upset the odds in the process so far. Having topped Division 2D, they then beat Division 2C representatives Slovenia in round one of the European play-offs, so there is already a sense that this Luxembourg team is punching above their weight.
With less than two years to go before RWC 2015 kicks off in England, the global qualification process is really heating up. The winner of Saturday’s match will play the Netherlands who saw off Lithuania, Malta, Croatia and Switzerland to top Division 2A at the halfway stage of the European Nations Cup 2014. For a full explanation of the European qualifying process click here.
Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “I would like to take this opportunity to wish both Luxembourg and Israel all the best on Saturday. Playing for your country is always special and to be doing so within the context of the Rugby World Cup qualification structure makes it even more prestigious for these players.”
“The growth of Rugby in Europe and around the world is testament to IRB’s commitment to grow the Game beyond its traditional heartlands and the hard work of the Member Unions themselves in conjunction with FIRA-AER.”
“Rugby World Cup is the pinnacle of our sport, and through the global qualification process there is a clear pathway and opportunity for every IRB Member Union to play at that level.”
Bernard Jargeac, General Secretary of the Fédération Luxembourgeoise de Rugby and also Executive Committee member of FIRA-AER, the European regional association, added: “It is great for Luxembourg Rugby that the Webb Ellis Cup is in town.”
“I don’t think people here really believe it’s the famous Webb Ellis Cup. They have been asking me if it’s really true. It is amazing for a small Union like ours to feel part of the Rugby World Cup in this way. I know the players will give it everything on Saturday and make the country proud.”