- The sixth leg of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour arrives in Beijing
- The Tour aims to inspire rugby’s next generation through schools and community outreach
- The two-year Trophy Tour will visit 18 countries in the countdown to Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, the first Rugby World Cup in Asia
- 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
The Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour has arrived in Beijing aiming to engage and excite new and existing rugby fans and players.
Hundreds of students have already been inspired by the tour this week as the Webb Ellis Cup visited Tsinghua University High School and Beijing National Day School Longyue. The tour, delivered in partnership with the China Rugby Football Association (CRFA), gave pupils the opportunity to learn more about the game, its values and how to play with taster training sessions with former Chinese National players Li Yang and Han Xiaolong. At Tsinghua University High School the Trophy Tour was also welcomed by Principal and Chairman of the World Leading School Association China, Mr Dianjun Wang.
Wang said: "Rugby shares the sports spirit of Tsinghua University High School and we are delighted to welcome the Webb Ellis Cup to China. We are very grateful to be part of the Trophy Tour and to receive the Get Into Rugby training balls which the International Department of the Tsinghua High School enjoyed training with today. We encourage teachers and students to help step up the promotion of rugby in their schools and we hope to set up school teams so that teachers and students can experience and train in the rugby way. We have enjoyed the charm of rugby today and hope to help our students develop the fighting spirit, strong physique and tenacious will of the game over time."
The sixth leg of the Trophy Tour, which will visit 18 countries in the build-up to Rugby World Cup 2019 hosted in Japan, will visit 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.
On the China leg of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour, World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: "These are exciting times for rugby globally with annual increases in participation and fanbase as the sport continues to reach out and appeal to new, younger audiences. Great progress is being made across Asia and China in particular offers a huge opportunity for rugby with recent Nielsen research showing that China has over 33 million fans who are either very interested or interested in rugby. We look forward to working closely with the authorities to continue to develop the framework and facilities for the sport in China.
"Bringing the Rugby World Cup to Asia for the first time in 2019 provides us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to galvanise interest in rugby throughout the continent and the Webb Ellis Cup visiting the Great Wall of China is an excellent marker of how far and wide the inspiration is being spread. It is positive to see the Impact Beyond legacy programme bringing benefits to the region with over 500,000 participants already getting their first taste of rugby as part of our ambitious Asia 1 Million project."
On Friday, the Trophy Tour will be hosted at China Agricultural University (CAU), which has strong links to rugby union and is thought to be the ‘home’ of the game after the late Professor Cao Xihuang brought rugby to China in 1990. The Webb Ellis Cup will be on display alongside some of CAU’s own rugby memorabilia, as well as a series of exhibition matches between CAU and former Chinese national team players including Zhiqiang (Johnny) Zhang, Peihou Zhu, Hui Xu and Shufeng Li. In addition, local school children will be invited to CAU to be part of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour and take part in an afternoon of activities to mark International Children’s Day.
On Saturday, the Trophy Tour moves to the Great Wall of China where the CRFA will run a Get Into Rugby training session and kit drop for young children. The Get Into Rugby programme is part of World Rugby’s strategy to grow the game globally in partnership with member regions and unions, aiming to encourage players of all ages to Try, Play and Stay in rugby. As of the end of November 2017, Asia Rugby boasted over more than 680,000 Get Into Rugby participants, the most of any region, with 36 per cent of participants female, reaffirming the strong potential for rugby’s growth in this youthful region of the world.
Jack Lau, General Secretary of the Chinese Rugby Football Association, said: "It is very exciting to welcome the Webb Ellis Cup back to China again. The Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour is a great opportunity to showcase the game of rugby and Rugby World Cup to Chinese people. We look forward to the excitement that Rugby World Cup 2019 will bring to Asia next year."
From Beijing the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour will continue to the Philippines in July and India in August. The tour will 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.