The past 12 months has seen over 70,000 people celebrate rugby as the Webb Ellis Cup toured the globe with the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour.
Delivered in partnership with Land Rover and DHL, the Trophy Tour has visited 15 countries, clocked up over 115,000 miles, stopped in 12 different time zones and crossed the equator six times.
The Trophy Tour has generated excitement in the build up to Rugby World Cup 2015 visiting a mixture of established and developing rugby nations. This included: Japan, Australia, Fiji, Madagascar, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, USA, UAE, China and Hong Kong, Italy, Romania, Canada, Germany and France.
In each country the Webb Ellis Cup visited a number of locations, including schools, rugby clubs and special receptions laid on by the British Embassies. In total the trophy visited 111 communities and involved over 70,000 people, in an international celebration of rugby, including three world leaders (Japan, Fiji and Uruguay) and three Mayors (Niagara Falls, Heidelberg and Paris).
Managing Director of England Rugby 2015, Stephen Brown, said: "With over 70,000 people celebrating rugby in over 100 communities across 15 countries, the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour has been a great way for us to generate excitement around the globe during the build to Rugby World Cup 2015. Young people and grassroots rugby were a key part of the Trophy Tour, helping to spread the reach of the game. Now the excitement will continue to spread as the Webb Ellis Cup embarks on a 100-day Trophy Tour around the UK and Ireland.”
An iconic trophy deserves an iconic setting and on its year long journey the Webb Ellis Cup has visited some of the world's most famous sites such as Niagara Falls, Mount Fuji, Sydney Harbour and the Burj Al Arab. During the trip to Rome the Trophy visited the Coliseum and the headquarters of the UN World Food Programme, the official charity of Rugby World Cup 2015.
Along the way the Webb Ellis Cup encountered all shapes and sizes including:
- 1 sumo wrestler in Tokyo
- 3 giraffes in Sydney
- 17 tribesmen in Fiji
- 2 lemurs in Madagascar
- 185 Royal Navy personnel from HMS Iron Duke in Cape Town
- 1 Maradona lookalike in Buenos Aires
- 20th and final team to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2015 in Montevideo
- 16 NYPD officers in New York
- Millions of grains of sand in Dubai
- 23 members of a Welsh male voice choir in Hong Kong
- 2 gladiator costumes in Milan
- 1 Olympic gymnast in Bucharest
- 2 members of Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Toronto
- 1 Olympic silver medal for rugby in Heidelberg
- 89 bottles of champagne in Paris
Inspire young rugby players
The Trophy Tour was supported by 308 current and former players along the way who have represented 27 different countries at international level. Many took part in coaching clinics at schools and clubs to help inspire young rugby players, as well as being involved with sponsor activations. This included 11 winners from five previous Rugby World Cup's such as Land Rover Ambassadors John Smit and Chester Williams in South Africa, John Afoa on behalf of DHL in Fiji and Will Greenwood who kicked off the Trophy Tour from East Midlands Airport.
The Trophy Tour coincided with the conclusion of qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2015 which meant the Webb Ellis Cup was present for Japan taking the Asia 1 spot by defeating Hong Kong, Fiji taking the Oceania spot by defeating the Cook Islands, Namibia taking the Africa 1 spot by beating Madagascar to win the Africa Cup and Uruguay taking the repechage spot by defeating Russia.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Rugby is reaching out, engaging and inspiring new audiences around the world in record numbers. There are now more than 7.2 million men, women and children actively playing the sport and in 2014 alone 450,000 children were introduced to the game via World Rugby's Get Into Rugbyprogramme. The Trophy Tour has provided a further catalyst to the growth story and showcased our activities such as our Tackle Hunger partnership with the UN World Food Programme in Madagascar. It has been fantastic to see the tremendous reception that the Webb Ellis Cup has received along the way.”
Land Rover has proudly supported this inaugural Trophy Tour providing a fleet of vehicles making it possible for the trophy to reach such a vast number of people and journeying down the Least Driven Path in each destination. A consistent activity across the Trophy Tour, Land Rover's Least Driven Path activity has taken the Webb Ellis Cup to places it has never been, giving rugby fans from grassroots clubs and communities worldwide, who otherwise would never have had the opportunity to see the coveted trophy.
Legends of the game
Linking up with a host of international Land Rover rugby ambassadors along the way, including legends of the game such as George Gregan, Shane Williams, Felipe Contepomi, Dimitri Yachvili and Lawrence Dallaglio, the trophy has visited the foothills of Mount Fuji, journeyed to the southernmost tip of Africa, met ring-tailed lemurs in Madagascar and even gone off-roading in the sand dunes of Dubai.
Along the way Land Rover has launched new rugby-focused CSR programmes in Argentina and China, to further enhance the company's long term commitment to helping to develop and grow the game around the world at grassroots level.
Mark Cameron, Jaguar Land Rover Global Brand Experience Director, said, "Land Rover has undertaken numerous activities during the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour with the ambition to bring people closer to the game of rugby. We are delighted that the Least Driven Path has helped England Rugby 2015 generate increased excitement for Rugby World Cup 2015 across both new audiences and committed fans of the game, whilst staying true to Land Rover's Rugby World Cup 2015 grassroots campaign, 'We Deal In Real'. We look forward to continuing to support England Rugby 2015 as the trophy embarks on the Domestic Trophy Tour on June 10.”
DHL transported the Webb Ellis Cup across the world with local arrivals including a helicopter flight across the New York City skyline and a grand welcome by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Toronto. At each tour location, DHL pitted rugby against the world, taking on 15 different sports and 17 athletes, including a sumo wrestler, kung-fu master, Olympic gymnast and a polo player on horseback. Flying the flag for rugby were legends who have amassed over 1,000 international caps between them including Shane Williams, Ronan O'Gara, Nathan Sharpe, Serge Betsen and Martin Corry amongst others, who led rugby to a convincing victory by nine wins to six across the Trophy Tour.
Proud to be a partner
Global Chief Executive Officer of DHL Express, Ken Allen, said: "DHL has been immensely proud to be a partner of the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour and to transport this precious cargo through our worldwide network. DHL is committed to supporting rugby globally, and it has been a privilege to support the trophy's journey and to celebrate rugby with fans and the next generation of players around the world. As the start of Rugby World Cup 2015 draws ever closer, we are proud to handle freight movements for all participating teams and look forward to a fantastic tournament.”
Throughout the 15 visits, people from around the world have been joining in the international celebration of the Trophy Tour through social media, such as sharing photos through Twitter and Facebook or watching the videos through YouTube. In total there have been over 5000,000 social media interactions through Rugby World Cup, Land Rover and DHL channels. Over 1,000 people took part in the #CelebratingRugby competition with 12 lucky people winning limited edition Trophy Tour rugby balls.
Next the Webb Ellis Cup will embark on a 100-day Trophy Tour of the UK and Ireland during the build up to the tournament, starting on 10 June.