RWC trophy tour gets royal send-off

2015-06-10 18:46
Prince Harry (File)

London - Rugby royalty met the real thing at Twickenham on Wednesday when Jonny Wilkinson and Britain's Prince Harry sent the Webb Ellis Cup on its tour of Britain to mark 100 days until the start of the Rugby World Cup.

Wilkinson, the drop-goal hero of England's 2003-winning team and a veteran of four World Cups, and Prince Harry, Honorary President of organisers England 2015, took part in a ceremony flanked by delighted local school children, with massed ranks of employees of the Rugby Football Union looking down from the stadium's mighty West Stand.

"I am pleased to send the Webb Ellis Cup on the World Cup Trophy Tour which will enable rugby fans from across the country to play their part in the build up to the tournament," Prince Harry said before another 2003 winner Will Greenwood drove away a Land Rover containing the golden trophy.

"As we have shown with the Olympic, Commonwealth and Invictus Games, we are a nation of great hosts; a nation that seizes the moment. The world will be expecting us to deliver and I know we won't disappoint.

"This tournament -- the most significant moment in English Rugby since that night in Sydney in 2003 -- has the ability to broaden the reach of the game and deliver a long lasting legacy for the sport."

Wilkinson, whose last-gasp drop goal secured that victory, is acting as an ambassador for the tournament since retiring from playing last season but said being back at Twickenham amid all the excitement had got his competitive juices flowing.

"I wouldn't mind getting out there for a few kicks with this," he told reporters while spinning the tournament's new ball, even saying he missed being mobbed by journalists thrusting tape recorders into his face from every angle.

"When you're playing you don't really realise what goes in to organising something like this, how much work it takes from so many people, you just have to turn up and play.

"Now I see what goes into it and why it's so special."

Organisers said that ticket sales for the September 18-October 31 tournament have now passed the two million mark and that with revenues already at £200 million the RFU was already safely over the line in terms of the £80 million guarantee they have to pay World Rugby, the sport's governing body.

Read more on:    rwc 2015  |  rugby

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