RUGBY’S coming home in August when the Webb Ellis Trophy visits the birthplace of the game.
The sport’s most coveted prize will be in Rugby and Warwickshire on August 16 and 17 as part of a national tour in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup.
Tournament organisers England Rugby 2015 have not yet confirmed times and venues, but have guaranteed the cup will come to town at some point during the two day period, as well as visiting Coventry Cathedral and War Memorial Park, Wasps RFC, Warwick School and Stratford-upon-Avon.
The town’s official World Cup Fanzone at the Old Market Square off Railway Terrace was also given the green light.
The 2,000 capacity Fanzone will feature a big screen where matches will be shown.
And, because of Rugby’s unique official status as ‘Proud Home of the Game’, it will be open to the public for 17 days during the tournament – longer than any of the other 14 official Fanzones, bar the one in London’s Olympic Park.
On various non-matchdays it will host rugby activities, food and drink, entertainment and grassroots and community rugby events to celebrate the game and the seven-week long tournament.
Rugby Borough Council bosses hope to create a ‘Carnival of Rugby’, with a similar atmosphere to the town’s annual food and culture festivals.
Council executive director Adam Norburn said: “Rugby World Cup 2015 will be one of the biggest sporting events in the world, and we are incredibly proud to be hosting an Official Fanzone.
“Since 1823, when William Webb Ellis first took the ball and ran with it, we have been proud of our history and keen to share it with the world. With our Fanzone and wider cultural programme we will have a wonderful opportunity to share our history even further, while giving residents and businesses a unique opportunity to get involved with the tournament.”
England Rugby 2015 chief executive Debbie Jevans said: “The countdown to Rugby World Cup 2015 is on and fans can now really begin to plan their tournament experience.
“The Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour will be the perfect opportunity to make 2015 feel like the year of the rugby nation. We can give as many fans as possible the opportunity to see the Webb Ellis Cup and tell us their rugby story.
“We are pleased to deliver another tournament first with an official Fanzone in every host city as well as in Rugby – the birthplace of the game – to give fans, residents and visitors a uniquely regional experience and a focal point for celebrating the tournament.”
The trophy tour will begin in Scotland on June 10 – 100 days before the tournament kicks off – visiting Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Wales and England before arriving at Twickenham Stadium on September 18 for the opening ceremony.
Full details on locations and events will be announced in the coming months.
The tournament runs from September 18 to October 31. Visit www.rugby.gov.uk/RWC2015 for more information.
Rugby Borough Council executive director Adam Norburn (left) and economic investment officer Michael Beirne celebrate the announcement of an official Fanzone at the Old Market Square.