UPDATE: Crowds flock to see Rugby World Cup come 'home' - The Rugby Observer

UPDATE: Crowds flock to see Rugby World Cup come 'home'

Rugby Editorial 18th Aug, 2015 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016   0

RUGBY’S greatest prize came ‘home’ on Sunday (August 16) – and hundreds turned out to catch a glimpse.

Escorted by 2003 World Cup winner Will Greenwood, The Webb Ellis Trophy made a pilgrimage to the hallowed turf of Rugby School’s The Close – where the game began in 1823 – before being paraded to thousands at the town’s Fanzone in Old Market Place.

Players and supporters from the town’s rugby clubs formed a guard of honour to welcome the cup as it made its way from Rugby School to the Fanzone.

The crowd gave a rousing rendition of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot when the trophy arrived, while Bilton Silver Band played a selection of music throughout the day.

Junior players from the town’s rugby clubs gave a skills showcase on a specially laid artificial pitch.

Will Greenwood told The Observer the town was a place of huge historical relevance.

He said: “If you love your sport, you understand that Rugby is a special place – it’s the birthplace of Rugby Union.

“The Rugby World Cup is a tournament which has five billion people watching it on the TV, so when that young man William Webb Ellis decided to mess about on the paddock and have a ‘blatant disregard for the rules of his time’, then it puts everything into context.

“We’ll have the eyes of the world on the country and it’s important to put on a great tournament, as we did with the Olympics in 2012, and continue to prove we can do really big special events spectacularly well.”

MP Mark Pawsey said the event was a wonderful way to start off the town’s tournament celebrations.

He said: “Everybody’s taken the advantage of putting their rugby shirts on, and we’ve got some fantastic junior rugby clubs in and around the town. The atmosphere’s great.

“I think the council has done a great job getting things started. The town’s been smartened up, local businesses have got themselves ready for the extra trade they’re going to get, and I think we’ll have a real fun atmosphere.”

Rugby Borough Council’s culture and economy spoksewoman Coun Heather Timms added: “I’m delighted that the town of Rugby has come out today to see the World Cup. It all started here with William Webb Ellis and I think we really deserve to celebrate it here in Rugby.”

The trophy’s visit started the official countdown to Rugby’s World Cup celebrations.

On 17 match dates, the Fanzone will show games live on a giant screen, kicking off on Friday September 18 when England take on Fiji at 8pm in the opening game of the tournament.

When the World Cup action takes a break, the Fanzone becomes the Rugby Village, hosting a packed programme of entertainment and events as part of the Enjoy Rugby Festival.

The festival runs from September 12 to November 6, with full details of all events – and the matches being screened in the Fanzone – available in the Enjoy Rugby Festival guide (visit www.enjoyrugby.co.uk).

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