May 6, 2014 (ISN) – A Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour, bearing many similarities with the Olympic Torch Relay, will visit 15 countries across six continents ahead of England 2015, it has been revealed today at an event celebrating 500 days to go until the tournament begins.
England Rugby 2015 chief executive Debbie Jevans, revealed the tour will be delivered in partnership with Land Rover and DHL and will aim to boost the global appeal of the sport, as well as generating revenue ahead of the tournament.
It will begin in just two weeks time on May 20 with an opening leg in Japan, host nation for the next edition of the World Cup in 2019, before visits are paid to Australia, Fiji, Madagascar, Kenya and South Africa.
The tour will then criss-cross the Atlantic and the Pacific on visits to Argentina, Uruguay, China, and the United States, before further Euro-Asian legs in the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Germany, Romania and France.
It will then cross the channel to England on the 100 days to go anniversary, on June 10, 2015, for a tour of the UK and Ireland.
Each visit will last between three to five days and will include the Webb Ellis Cup visiting local schools and rugby clubs and other iconic locations, as well as a reception hosted at the British Embassy in each location.
“We are very excited to announce the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour plans,” said Jevans.
“This gives us a unique opportunity to celebrate rugby around the world in the lead up to 2015, engaging and exciting rugby fans and potential new audiences ahead of the Tournament.
“Visiting 15 countries, including nations qualified for the World Cup and emerging rugby markets, gives us an opportunity to showcase the global game and its shared values, and we look forward to the start of the tour in Japan later this month.”
The tour was unveiled by Debbie Jevans when she spoke alongside Brett Gosper and Ian Ritchie today ©ITG
In an optimistic atmosphere, made all the more attractive by the blue skies above the iconic Stadium, a message that everything is going to plan was given very much at odds with preparations for other major sporting events, most notably the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
It was also revealed tickets for all 48 games will go on sale via an application window which is due to open on September 12 and close on September 29, a year in advance of the tournament beginning on September 18 the following year.
From September 12, members of the public will be able to select the matches they want to attend across the country and in Cardiff, with any oversubscribed matches balloted.
In advance of the general sale, 500,000 tickets will go on sale to rugby fans this month through the Rugby Community Ticket Programme launched earlier this year.
All clubs and organisations in England affiliated to the Rugby Football Union will, from today, be able to register their nominated members to purchase tickets from May 16.
It was also stressed there will be no segregation between fans from different countries, as the rugby values of harmony and unity were emphasised.
“Our plans are right on track with 500 days to go, and we are pleased to announce the dates of the general sale today, allowing fans to save the date and plan,” said Jevans.
Brett Gosper, the International Rugby Board chief executive, speaking alongside Jevans, claimed they are in “excellent shape for a compelling and exciting festival of rugby, which will also develop the sport throughout the world”.
He added more travel packages have already been sold than for New Zealand 2011, and new broadcasting deals had been signed in countries ranging from Pakistan to Greenland, and that lots of positive momentum is being created to the extent that England 2015 is shaping up to be the most “record-breaking” World Cup ever”.
With four qualifying position still up for grabs, Gosper also hailed the prospect of new nations, such as Madagascar, qualifying for the World Cup.
He dismissed concerns that it will be unsafe for players from developing countries to take on teams from the top nations, adding that it was “part of the attraction of the World Cup”.
England 2015 is due take place from September 18 until October 31, 2015 and will feature 20 nations across six continents, with defending champion New Zealand set to be favourites to repeat their 2011 triumph.