● Rugby’s next generation inspired through school and club visits
● Hong Kong keep RWC 2019 qualification hopes alive, securing vital points in the Asia Rugby Championship with 91-10 win over Malaysia in front of the Webb Ellis Cup
● Strong growth in rugby participation across Asia with more than 500,000 new participants already involved in Rugby World Cup 2019 Impact Beyond legacy programme
● Former Rugby World Cup winners Terry Wright (1987) and Josh Lewsey (2003), both Hong Kong residents, excited by first Rugby World Cup in Asia
● The Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour will continue to Beijing
The Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour was joined by thousands of new and existing rugby fans this week as the Webb Ellis Cup visited schools and rugby clubs in Hong Kong. The fifth leg of the Trophy Tour, which will visit 18 countries in the build-up to Rugby World Cup 2019, was also part of Hong Kong’s own RWC 2019 journey as they secured a 91-10 victory over Malaysia.
Hong Kong now face Korea on 2 June as they target the Asia Rugby Championship title and the opportunity to play the Cook Islands in June/July, hoping to secure their place in the RWC 2019 repechage tournament later this year.
While the Hong Kong team worked hard to secure victory on the field, off-pitch the bustling crowd at the Hong Kong Football Club joined the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour, taking photos with the Webb Ellis Cup which was on display at the ground.
The visit to the stadium rounded off a busy few days in Hong Kong as the Trophy Tour was welcomed by Confucius Hall Secondary School, King George V School, Jockey Club Sarah Roe School, the Hong Kong Rugby Union’s (HKRU) Community Foundation Deaf Rugby training programme, a community youth rugby training group, the Hong Kong women’s sevens team, and a formal HKRU reception to celebrate the tour.
Old friends of the Webb Ellis Cup also joined the Trophy Tour this week as New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup 1987 winner Terry Wright and England’s Rugby World Cup 2003 winner Josh Lewsey, both Hong Kong residents, showed their support and excitement for Japan 2019.
Lewsey, along with Rugby World Cup 2019 Worldwide Partners DHL, was on hand to deliver a Get Into Rugby kit to Confucius Hall Secondary School and even stepped back into his coaching role, helping the students with rugby training delivered by HKRU community coaches. By the end of 2017, Asia Rugby boasted more than 680,000 Get Into Rugby participants, the most of any region, with 36 percent of participants female, reaffirming the strong potential for rugby’s growth in this youthful region of the world.
Lewsey said: “It’s been great taking part in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour – it’s nice to see an old friend in the Webb Ellis Cup, especially in Hong Kong where I now live – and I am pleased to support the Get Into Rugby kit drop at Confucius Hall Secondary School and get involved with Hong Kong Rugby Union’s training session. It’s nice to see the impact that the trophy has on young kids and how that drives them to train and play harder.
“It’s an exciting time with less than 500 days to go until the start of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and it is fantastic to see a World Rugby take the tournament to Asia for the first time. There is already a lot of excitement and anticipation for the event and I think that tournament, combined with programmes like the Trophy Tour which will take rugby’s greatest prize to countries like China, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines, will really help to grow the global game.”
The Webb Ellis Cup was in safe hands as Hong Kong Police officers and members of the Police Rugby teams Joker Lo Wai Yin and Andy Leung donned their rugby boots ahead of the Police International Rugby Championship hosted in Hong Kong next year. The police are one of the founding members of the HKRU, and they are still very active in the community with two men’s and one women’s team participating in the local league, a mini rugby section of more than 300 youngsters, and active support for the local charity Operation Breakthrough that uses sport as a medium to help at-risk youngsters.
Rounding off the Trophy Tour with a successful match for the Hong Kong team, HKRU CEO Robbie McRobbie said: “We’ve had a great few days with the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour and it has been a fantastic opportunity to give a broad cross-section of our vibrant Hong Kong rugby community access to the iconic Webb Ellis Cup.
“Rugby World Cup represents all that we aspire to in terms of excellence, friendship and respect and we know that having the Webb Ellis Cup here will have helped reinforce those values and inspired many of our players, young and old. We’d like to thank World Rugby for including Hong Kong in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour. We wish them well with the remainder of the tour and hope that Hong Kong will have the chance to be there for the last leg in Japan in 2019.”
From Hong Kong, the Webb Ellis Cup will travel to Beijing for the sixth leg of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour. The two-year tour includes a mix of established and emerging rugby nations and in Asia it will support the dedicated Impact Beyond 2019 legacy programme which aims to attract and retain one million new rugby participants. The project is already making very strong progress in Asia, with more than 500,000 already reached through various growing the game programmes.
The tour will also excite the global rugby family and drive fan engagement as Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan approaches. Click here to view the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour schedule.
Rugby World Cup 2019 takes place from 20 September-2 November, 2019. There has been strong demand for Rugby World Cup 2019 with more than 1.5 million ticket applications already received. The Front Row/Supporters’ Club priority ballot application is now open, running between 19 May to 26 June, and fans who are not yet a member are being urged not to miss out by signing-up via www.rugbyworldcup.com/supporters and creating a ticket registration account at www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets.
For more detail on the Rugby World Cup 2019 ticketing process, visit www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets