- The Webb Ellis Cup visited Espartanos, ESPN, Camioneros Rugby Club, the Japanese Ambassador’s Residence and a number of iconic spots across Buenos Aires
- Thousands of fans came face-to-face with the iconic trophy during a four-day visit to the Argentine capital
- Argentina is the last stop on the 19 country international tour, with the trophy arriving in Japan for 100 days to go to Rugby World Cup 2019
- The trophy has travelled 200,000 miles and inspired more than 80,000 people who participated in over 200 events during the largest ever Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour
- RWC 2019 in Japan set to become the most popular tournament to date with more than 5.5 million applications for tickets, which are on sale via tickets.rugbyworldcup.com
The Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour completed its 19th and final international stop in Buenos Aires this week as thousands of fans got the chance to see the famous Webb Ellis Cup in the Argentine capital ahead of this year’s showcase tournament in Japan.
The first stop on the tour saw the Webb Ellis Cup visit the Espartanos project at San Martín prison, where rugby has helped cut reoffending rates for inmates taking part from 65 per cent to less than five per cent. Former Argentina internationals Manuel Contepomi and Gonzalo Longo were on hand to help coach Espartanos players as they participated in a three-team tournament in front of the Webb Ellis Cup.
Contepomi, who played in three Rugby World Cups, said: “Espartanos is an amazing project which started 10 years ago with a simple vision to improve peoples’ lives through rugby. Fast forward to today and Espartanos is using rugby for good in prisons up and down the country. People make mistakes in life, but this project helps to give them a second chance. It’s a real honour for all of us to have the Webb Ellis Cup here, and who knows, maybe one day Argentina will get their hands on the trophy.”
Following the visit to Espartanos, the trophy took centre stage on the popular rugby-themed programme, ESPN Scrum, as former Argentina internationals Horacio Agulla, Diego Albanese and Tomás de Vedia discussed Argentina’s prospects at Rugby World Cup 2019. ESPN are the exclusive South American rights-holders for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and will complement their live coverage of the tournament with a comprehensive TV, digital, mobile and radio offering, demonstrating the region’s growing level of interest in the game.
The last stop on day one of the tour saw the Webb Ellis Cup travel to a Get Into Rugby event at Camioneros Rugby Club in the Province of Buenos Aires. Pumas players past and present were on hand to lead the workshops, as Gonzalo Camacho, Santiago Fernández and Matias Alemanno helped youngsters from socially challenged neighbourhoods, such as Villa 31, practice their tackling, passing and footwork skills.
Camacho said: “Camioneros is a special place as it has a big impact on the local community. The club does a great job promoting the values of rugby and giving people opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have.”
On day two the Webb Ellis Cup embarked on a tour of some of Buenos Aires’ most iconic locations. The day started at the newly renovated Retiro Station, where thousands of morning commuters stopped to admire the trophy, before it made the short journey up Avenida Libertador for a photo shoot in front of the Floralis Generica, a giant mechanical flower which opens and closes its petals based on the time of day.
The next stop was the La Boca neighbourhood in the south of the city, where tango dancers and musicians performed in front of the trophy and hundreds of passers-by stopped for photos. Later that afternoon the Webb Ellis Cup returned to the city centre where it was displayed at the Teatro Colón, one of the world’s most renowned opera houses, and El Obelisco, one of the city’s main landmarks.
The Webb Ellis Cup ended the day at the Puente de la Mujer (Women’s Bridge) in Puerto Madero, the modernised dockside area of the city. Two Argentina women’s sevens players, Sofía Recalde and Sofía Urriza, whose team recently came third in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games regional qualifier in Peru, made the trip to Puerto Madero and were clearly buoyed by the presence of the trophy in the Argentine capital.
“It’s very emotional to come face to face with the Webb Ellis Cup as we’re used to seeing things like this on TV or online. Here in Argentina, everyone is very excited about Rugby World Cup 2019 and we can’t wait for the tournament to begin.”
On day three of the tour, the trophy was the guest of honour for a reception at the Residence of the Japanese Ambassador, Noriteru Fukushima, where a number of invited guests came together to celebrate the visit to Argentina and the forthcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan. Among the attendees and speakers were the Argentinian Rugby Union President Marcelo Rodriguez and Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma, who both expressed their excitement about the next few months.
World Rugby Vice-Chairman and Rugby Americas President Agustín Pichot said: “As a proud Argentine it is fantastic that the Webb Ellis Cup has inspired so many people in Buenos Aires. The important role social projects such as Espartanos and Camioneros play in teaching the unique spirit and values of rugby cannot be underestimated and I congratulate everybody involved. Argentina’s passion for rugby continues to be very strong and we are seeing that energy and excitement for the game now spread across the whole continent. An exciting future lies ahead for rugby in the Americas.”
Argentina was the culmination of an 18-month international trophy tour that was delivered in partnership with rugby unions, federations, clubs and teams the world over. Visiting 19 countries, the trophy has travelled over 200,000 miles by plane, bus, car, boat and even cable car to reach as many communities and fans as possible on the journey. More than 80,000 people took part in over 200 activities and events during the largest ever Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour.
In Asia, the Trophy Tour was a key driver of the dedicated Impact Beyond 2019 legacy programme which aimed to attract one million new rugby participants across the continent ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019. With more than 30,000 fans and a number of brand new players getting into rugby in Asia during the tour, there is no doubt that the Webb Ellis Cup has helped to grow the game in these nations.
During the journey across the globe, the iconic silverware found itself at a host of the world’s best known landmarks, such as the Taj Mahal (India), the Great Wall of China, Table Mountain (South Africa), Sugarloaf Mountain (Brazil), Santa Monica Pier (USA) and Fiji’s heart shaped Tavarua Island. As well as climbing mountains in South Africa and Brazil, the trophy reached the highest altitude it has ever seen, with a stop at Kala Patthar (5,500m) and a spectacular backdrop of Mount Everest in the Himalayas.
More than 350 international players, past and present, joined the tour to inspire the next generation of players. Many of them were on hand to deliver coaching sessions, take selfies with fans and whether this was the first time they had seen the trophy, or they had held it in their hands as a Rugby World Cup winner, they all expressed their excitement at being part of this global celebration of rugby.
The Trophy Tour has been privileged to have received such a high level of engagement from governments around the world, meeting the King of Spain, the King of Malaysia, the Vice-President of Nepal, and a host of government ministers who took time out of their busy schedules to show their support for their rugby federations, Rugby World Cup and, crucially, commitment to the game in their respective countries.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour has travelled the length and breadth of the globe during the past 18 months and on behalf of World Rugby, I’d like to thank each and every country we have visited for their continued work and enthusiasm for the great game of rugby.
“It is fantastic to see the impact the famous Webb Ellis Cup has had around the world, energising fans young and old and inspiring people to pick up a ball for the first time. This is such an exciting time for rugby in Asia as participation and fan growth accelerates rapidly throughout the continent. As we look ahead to the trophy arriving in Tokyo for 100 days to go to the start of Rugby World Cup 2019 next week and the start of the trophy’s domestic tour around Japan, I have no doubt the excitement will continue to build towards a very special and game-changing Rugby World Cup later this year.”
Argentina was the 19th and final stop on the 18-month Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour. The Webb Ellis Cup will now travel to Japan for a 100-day tour of the host nation ahead of the opening match of the tournament on 20 September. For more information on the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour, please visit www.rugbyworldcup.com/trophy-tour.
With more than 5.5 million ticket applications, this year’s tournament in Japan is set to become the most popular Rugby World Cup to date. All remaining tickets are on sale now via rugbyworldcup.com/tickets.
For more information about Rugby World Cup 2019, please visit www.rugbyworldcup.com.
Elsewhere in Argentina the World Rugby U20 Championship kicked off this week and fans around the world can see the stars of the future by following all the action at www.world.rugby/u20.