The Webb Ellis Cup visits one of the seven wonders of the world and inspires children across China to get into rugby.
- Great Wall of China hosts the Webb Ellis Cup and Get Into Rugby training session
- The tour was also welcomed at the heart of Chinese rugby, China Agricultural University, where former national players joined an exhibition match
- Next generation engaged and inspired on International Children’s Day
- School visits to Tsinghua University High School and Beijing National Day School Longyue help kick-start interest in the game
- The two-year Trophy Tour will visit 18 countries in the countdown to RWC 2019 in Japan, the first Rugby World Cup in Asia
The sixth leg of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour completed a busy week in Beijing with a visit to the Great Wall of China. Rugby’s most coveted prize visited one of the seven wonders of the world before children from Bokai Intellectual Quanna Kindergareten took part in a Get Into Rugby training session at the foothills of the Great Wall in Mutianyu. Get Into Rugby 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.
Former Chinese international Han Xiaolong, now a coach with the China Rugby Football Association (CRFA), helped the young players aged five to eight try out the game in the unique surroundings of the Great Wall. He said: “Children as young as five can see just how special the Rugby World Cup is and it was a unique opportunity to coach in the surroundings of the Great Wall alongside the Webb Ellis Cup. Get Into Rugby is a programme that will help anyone of any age to try rugby and we hope that this, combined with the Trophy Tour and the tournament next year, will help to grow the game at all levels.”
The two-year Trophy Tour, launched in 2017, will visit 18 countries in the lead up to Japan 2019, including a mix of established and emerging rugby nations. In Asia it will support the dedicated Impact Beyond 2019 legacy programme which aims to attract and retain one million new rugby participants.
With more than 500,000 new participants already involved in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Impact Beyond legacy programme great progress is being made across Asia, and in China there is a huge opportunity for rugby with recent Nielsen research showing that the country has more than 33 million fans who are either very interested or interested in rugby.
A number of those fans had access to the Webb Ellis Cup this week as the Trophy Tour visited Tsinghua University High School and Beijing National Day School Longyue and gave pupils the opportunity to learn more about the game, its values and how to play with taster training sessions with former Chinese internationals Li Yang and Han Xiaolong.
The Trophy Tour was also welcomed at the heart of rugby in China, China Agricultural University (CAU), by Vice-Principal Jianhua Zhang, President of the Beijing University Sports Association Songpeng Du and China’s former coach Hongjun Zheng. CAU alumni and former Chinese internationals Zhiqiang (Johnny) Zhang, Peihou Zhu, Hui Xu, Xuming Jiang, Xiaolong Han and Shufeng Li also joined the Trophy Tour festivities, taking to the university pitch in a CAU Old Boys side for an exhibition match against Chaoyang District Sports School. Experience paid off as the Old Boys, despite an average age of 39.5 years, were victorious over a much younger Chaoyang side.
Zhigiang Zhang said: “Although I have retired I still have great passion for the game and I hope that I can continue to contribute to rugby and to devote to my country. I am very glad that the Webb Ellis Cup has come to China Agricultural University and to Asia on the Trophy Tour. I hope Rugby World Cup 2019 will offer fans a world class tournament which can help to inspire the next generation of rugby fans and players in Asia.”
Engaging the next generation of rugby fans and players, the Trophy Tour also celebrated International Children’s Day on 1 June, inviting students from Beijing Haidian District TuqiangNo. 2 Primary School and Chaoyang No.3 Children’s Sports School and CRFA women’s youth team to see the Webb Ellis Cup, enjoy the exhibition matches at CAU and take part in a training session.
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-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. Fans who use their Mastercard, an official Worldwide Partner, will double their chances in the ballot. For more detail on the Rugby World Cup 2019 ticketing process, visit www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets.