Flags flying in birthplace of the game on eve of Rugby World Cup - The Rugby Observer

Flags flying in birthplace of the game on eve of Rugby World Cup

Editorial Correspondent 7th Sep, 2023 Updated: 7th Sep, 2023   0

THE flags of all 20 nations competing in the Rugby World Cup have been raised at the William Webb Ellis statue in the birthplace of the game.

Hosts France kick-off the tournament tomorrow (Friday September 8), taking on three-times World Cup winners New Zealand at the Stade de France.

This year’s contest for the Webb Ellis Cup coincides with the bicentenary of rugby football, marking the moment in 1823 when a ‘fine disregard for rules’ gave the world a game.

Up for the cup – (left to right) Rugby First town ranger Reece Hawes, Rugby Borough Council’s place marketing officer Abi McCartney, and town ranger Kate Allen-Mason with the replica Webb Ellis Cup next to the statue of William Webb Ellis.

And Rugby has bid ‘good luck’ to all 20 nations competing for World Cup glory by flying the flags of each country by the statue of Webb Ellis in the town centre.

Rugby School kicked-off the 200th anniversary celebrations in February with an official launch on The Close, with the latest bicentenary event culminating in the French capital on Tuesday (September 5) when the ‘Audacious Run’ reaches its finishing line.

The Audacious Run has challenged ultramarathon athlete Jake Barraclough to run the 281 miles from Rugby School to Paris in just 11 days – embracing the audacity of Webb Ellis when he picked up the football and ran (see page 6).

Rugby Borough Council has backed the bicentenary with a revamp of the surroundings of the Webb Ellis statue, dressing the town centre with lamppost banners marking the milestone and commissioning a new piece of public art – The Try – for the Evreux Way roundabout.

The council has also added ‘Bicentenary of the Game – 1823 to 2023’ plates to the ‘Welcome to Rugby’ signs on main routes into the borough and plans to install a bicentenary plaque on the town’s Pathway of Fame, which honours legendary players and major moments in rugby history.

And in partnership with Rugby School, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum marks the bicentenary by hosting He Ran With It…, the school’s exhibition which traces Rugby’s role in the development of the game over the last 200 years.

Tom Kittendorf, Rugby Borough Council chief officer for leisure and wellbeing, said: “The Rugby World Cup promises to be a global celebration of the bicentenary of the game, with 20 teams competing for the Webb Ellis Cup 200 years after William first picked up the ball and ran.

“The tournament puts the birthplace of the game on the world stage and we wish all the nations the best of luck in what promises to be a fantastic World Cup.”

Linda Lowne, Rugby First’s business and stakeholder manager, said: “This year’s Rugby Food and Drink Festival, organised by Rugby First, takes place on Saturday September 23, when England take on Chile in the Rugby World Cup.

“The festival also has a World Cup flavour with a number of themed dishes being prepared at the pop-up kitchen, so it’s a great opportunity to make a day of it by exploring the festival, watching the match at one of the many town centre pubs screening the tournament, and enjoying all Rugby town centre has to offer.”


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