- India’s next generation of rugby players inspired by the Webb Ellis Cup as they take part in a Get Into Rugby session at Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences
- Chief Minister, Government of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik welcomes the Webb Ellis Cup to Bhubaneswar
- Iconic trophy pictured at the historic Konark Sun temple in Odisha
- Bhubaneswar is the final stop of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour in India
- World Rugby aims to attract and retain one million new players in Asia by 2020 through the Impact Beyond programme
The Webb Ellis Cup arrived in the city of Bhubaneswar today much to the excitement of more than 15,000 aspiring young rugby players on the final leg of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour in India.
The trophy, making its first ever visit to India, was welcomed by the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and members of the Sports and Youth Services Department from the Government of Odisha.
The two-year Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour is visiting 18 countries aiming to inspire and engage new and existing rugby players and fans. The Rugby World Cup takes place every four years and in 2019 will be hosted in Japan – the first tournament to be played in Asia.
The Trophy Tour supports World Rugby’s Impact Beyond Programme which utilises World Rugby tournaments as a catalyst for the global growth of the game. Project Asia 1 Million, which aims to attract one million new rugby participants by 2020, has already reached over 500,000 people across Asia.
Click here to view video of the Webb Ellis Cup being received by 15,000 schoolchildren.
Chief Minister, Government of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik said: "It is good to witness the excitement around the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour in India. Odisha is the nursery of rugby in India and our players have brought laurels for both the state and the country. We are also the proud host of the Asian U18 Women's Rugby Sevens in October. I wish to encourage more kids to come forward and play the sport of rugby."
Following the strong show of support and interest in the game from the Government officials of Odisha, the Webb Ellis Cup travelled to the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) where it was given a rapturous reception by more than 15,000 students amid scenes of great enthusiasm as all eyes were eager to catch a glimpse of rugby’s greatest prize on its first visit to India.
The students aged 11-14 welcomed the Webb Ellis Cup on the pitches of KISS before joining in a Get Into Rugby training session delivered by Rugby India coaches and players including Munna Murmur and Rajkishore Murmu and Women’s players Sumitra Nayak, Hupi Majhi and Liza Sardar.
World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper, who accompanied the Trophy Tour in both Delhi and Mumbai, commented: “The remarkable level of excitement for the arrival of the Rugby World Cup trophy in Bhubaneswar is another marker of the huge potential that exists for the game across India. The extraordinary scenes of over 15,000 boys and girls enthusiastically welcoming the Webb Ellis Cup represents a record for Trophy Tour events around the world and is a demonstration that the future of rugby in India is looking very bright.
“We thank Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for his kind invitation to host the Webb Ellis Cup in Bhubaneswar and extend our gratitude to Vishal Dev and the Sports and Youth Services Department of the Government of Odisha as they continue to show their strong support for the game of rugby in this region.”
The last two years has seen the biggest growth and development of rugby across the country with India ranked first in Asia and third in the world in terms of participation numbers through World Rugby’s Get Into Rugby programme by reaching more than 160,000 participants, with 40 per cent female in 2017.
Young people have been at the heart of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour in India, reflecting the huge potential for the growth of the game in future generations. Following a formal welcome by the honourable Sports Minister of India, Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in Delhi on Monday, players and fans from local clubs across Delhi had the chance to view the Webb Ellis Cup at a Rugby India Get Into Rugby event in the city.
Players and fans in Mumbai also took part in the celebration of rugby at the Bombay Gymkhana club on Wednesday, where Bollywood star Sidharth Malhotra and former India international and actor Rahul Bose joined the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour and took part in a light training session with young local players.
The iconic trophy has also visited some of India’s most recognisable and beautiful locations including one of the seven wonders of the world the Taj Mahal, one of the best-preserved architectural sites in Delhi, the Red Fort, as well as the famous memorial India Gate. Today the Webb Ellis Cup was also pictured at the ancient Konark Sun Temple in Puri, Odisha.
India is the eighth leg of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour and follows a recent visit to the Philippines. Since the tour launched in 2017, the Webb Ellis Cup has visited both established and emerging rugby nations including England, Uruguay, Spain, Fiji, Hong Kong and China. The Rugby World Cup is in India for the first time and will also visit countries including Nepal, Malaysia, Pakistan, Brazil and Chile in the lead up to the tournament.
Rugby has a rich history in India, dating back to 1924 when the inaugural All India and South East Asia Rugby Championship was first played on Indian soil. The last two years has seen the biggest growth and development of rugby across the country with India ranked first in Asia and third in the world in terms of participation numbers through World Rugby’s Get Into Rugby programme by reaching over 160,000 participants in 2017. In addition, rugby is now a core sport in the SGFI’s National School Games Calendar for the U14, U17 and U19 Boys and Girls categories as well as part of AIU’s National University Games calendar – yet another major milestone for Rugby India and World Rugby’s ambitions to grow the game globally.
Rugby India President Numazar Mehta said: “We are proud to host the Webb Ellis Cup in India as the countdown to the Rugby World Cup 2019 gets underway. After successfully visiting Delhi and Mumbai the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour is now visiting the iconic city of Bhubaneswar as the international celebration of rugby continues.
"It is heart-warming to see so much support from the Department of Tourism and Sports and Youth Service, Government of Odisha and Odisha Rugby Football Association. Odisha has been at the forefront of hosting numerous national tournaments across both, the seniors and age grade categories, including SGFI’s National Schools games. Now the State is taking a step forward and hosting the Asia Rugby Sevens Championship for under-18 girls in October 2018. The sport is growing rapidly across the nation and we are hoping passionate rugby supporters from across the country and Asia will join in to witness the thrilling rugby action in Bhubaneswar. It is truly a great honour to have Honourable Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik present this beautiful trophy to the state of Odisha."
After completing the India leg of Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour in Bhubaneswar, the trophy will travel to Japan ahead of the one year to go countdown and celebrations in September. To view the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour schedule visit www.rugbyworldcup.com/trophy-tour.
For more detail on Rugby World Cup 2019 visit www.rugbyworldcup.com