The famous Webb Ellis Cup has made the trip to Germany and will be on display for this week’s crucial Rugby Europe Championship match between Germany and Belgium. With the home team having already beaten previous RWC qualifiers Romania, they will come into the match on a high with an up-and-coming Belgium side determined to halt their progress.
Rugby fans in Germany will have a unique opportunity to get up close to the iconic trophy as it goes on display before and during the match at Stadion Am Bieberer Berg, Offenbach (near Frankfurt) as well as making a number of appearances in schools and public places during its brief but packed visit.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “The Webb Ellis Cup is an instantly recognisable symbol of our sport and it is important for it to be accessible to rugby fans everywhere. Offenbach may not be seen as a global hotbed of the game but Germans who follow the sport do so with just as much passion as anywhere else.
“With a very special Rugby World Cup 2015 fresh in our memories, we are excited to be following the European qualification process for Japan 2019. What is special about this process is that there is a genuine and clear pathway for member unions to make it to the tournament and we know that unforgettable moments will be shared by the players and teams who are beginning their Rugby World Cup journey. Ambitious unions can use qualification for rugby’s showpiece tournament as something to aim for and, in the years to come, I believe we can expect to see new teams make their Rugby World Cup debuts.
“I can’t say whether Germany or Belgium will be one of the teams that makes it all the way to Japan but the point is that they have the chance to do so. In many ways, Rugby World Cup is not just a tournament of 20 teams but in fact it’s designed to include all 103 full member unions. I would like to thank Rugby Europe and the Deutscher Rugby-Verband (DRV) for hosting these matches and for being part of this great tournament.”
Germany will start the match as favourites having recently beaten previous qualifiers Romania and Uruguay. Tickets for the game are on sale and disappearing fast as local sports fans rush to see what their national team can achieve on the global stage.
President of DRV Klaus Blank said: “We are looking forward to this match greatly. It will be a highly attractive event in itself but with the added attraction of continuing the European road towards Rugby World Cup 2019, it adds a real significance to it. Teams have been working hard towards this and we are seeing the fruits of that effort year after year, both at domestic and international level.
“It means a lot to German rugby to have the opportunity to qualify for Japan. The presence of the Webb Ellis Cup in Offenbach for the game will give all the players and supporters a huge boost and is a reminder of the fact that every team participates in the Rugby World Cup, not just the 20 sides that qualify.
“To have the famous Webb Ellis Cup on display in Germany is a great honour for us and will create huge excitement among sports fans here and we are looking forward to putting on show for the entire country to admire.”
With 12 teams having secured their place at Japan 2019 courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers and, for the first time, a stand-alone round-robin repechage tournament to determine the final qualifier in 2018. All qualified teams will be known by November 2018. Meanwhile, the pool allocation draw for RWC 2019 will take place on 10 May 2017 in Kyoto, Japan.