Rugby’s greatest prize, the Webb Ellis Cup, will be welcomed to India by Hon’ble Sports Minister of India, Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore next week as the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour arrives in Delhi.
With just over one year to go until Rugby World Cup 2019 takes place in Japan – the first time the tournament will be hosted in Asia – the Webb Ellis Cup will also visit Mumbai and Bhubaneswar as part of an international celebration of rugby ahead of next year’s tournament.
Hosted once every four years, the Rugby World Cup is the game’s centrepiece event and the third largest sports event in the world after the summer Olympics and the Football World Cup. Rugby World Cup 2019 takes place in Japan from 20 September – 2 November 2019 and will see the best 20 teams in the world compete for rugby’s greatest prize.
Ahead of Japan 2019, a two-year Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour is underway visiting 18 countries aiming to inspire and engage new and existing rugby players and fans. The Trophy Tour supports World Rugby’s Impact Beyond Programme which aims to use World Rugby tournaments as a catalyst for the growth of the game. Project Asia 1 Million, part of Impact Beyond, which aims to attract one million new rugby participants by 2020, has already reached over 500,000 people across Asia.
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 Rugby World 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 & 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.
Ahead of the Trophy Tour, Mahesh Mathai, Indian Rugby Football Union Secretary General, said: “We are extremely proud and honoured that India has been chosen as one of the 18 nations that will host the coveted Rugby World Cup as part of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour. It is encouraging that World Rugby has recognized and acknowledged Rugby India’s efforts to grow and develop this beautiful game across India.
“I would like to call upon the wider rugby fraternity from across the country to join hands and welcome this magnificent trophy to India. We also sincerely thank all those who have supported and invested in the game in India, particularly Rugby India partner Société Générale for the commitment and cooperation they have extended to grow and develop rugby across the country – also one of the six Rugby World Cup 2019 worldwide partners.
“Japan 2019 is the first time that the tournament will be played on Asian soil and we are glad to be a part of this rugby celebration in the lead up to this exciting tournament.”