Prince Harry has helped start the one hundred day countdown to the Rugby World Cup which will be played in England and Wales later this year. The prince was at Twickenham on Wednesday to see the famous Webb Ellis cup depart on a tour which will visit locations across the UK ahead of the competition starting.
The prince was joined by two of the game’s legends, Jonny Wilkinson and Will Greenwood, to start the trophy tour. Between now and September 18th, when the Rugby World Cup starts, it will be seen by fans at over 300 events over 100 days including a five day stint in Scotland, ten days in Wales and five each in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The prince watched as the Webb Ellis Cup, presented to the winners of the tournament since it started in 1987, was loaded into a car to head off on its tour. Dozens of local school children were also there to cheer as the cup began its journey.
Prince Harry was in no doubt about the significance of the occasion. He began his speech by telling listeners ‘this is a very exciting day – just 100 days until the start of the Rugby World Cup’ and he said the decision to take the Webb Ellis Trophy to so many different places will ‘enable fans from across the country to play their part in the build up to the tournament’.
Harry has many associations with the game. As well as being vice patron of the Rugby Football Union he is patron of their Injured Players Foundation and patron of England Rugby’s All Schools Programme which aims to increase the number of young people playing the sport in state schools. And his passion for the game came through in his speech as he said ‘Rugby is a game built on values – respect, pride, team work and discipline….I have no doubt the British public will make every nation feel at home and we will provide the best possible welcome to the 20 teams and hundreds of thousands of fans coming to the UK’.
The 2015 Rugby World Cup will be played across five weeks and the final will take place at Twickenham on October 31st. But between then and now the famous trophy which will be handed over to the winners has got a lot of travelling to do.
Photo credit: UK in Italy via Flickr