Philippine Rugby General Manager Jake Letts hailed the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour visit a success for rugby in the country.
The Webb Ellis Cup spent five days in the Manila area attending events ranging from a touch rugby game at the active Taal Volcano to walk-up Get Into Rugby sessions at a new gigantic shopping mall.
The coveted piece of silverware is on an 18-month tour in the lead up to Japan 2019, which represents Asia’s first ever hosting of the Rugby World Cup. With preparations on track ahead of the one year to go milestone in September, and exceptional domestic and global ticketing demand, the stage is being set for a very special Rugby World Cup.
In the Philippines, Letts has seen rugby develop beyond recognition in the ten years since the Philippine Rugby Football Union became a full member of World Rugby, and says having the iconic trophy visit will have inspired future generations to get involved in the sport.
“When I first got the message the Webb Ellis Cup was coming it was spine-tingling,” said Letts. “For it to come to a local training session in the Philippines is such a rare opportunity and for these players to get up close to it is something they will always remember. They can tell their families and in the future their children that they were there when it was here in the Philippines.
“Our vision is to make sure that rugby is played here in the Philippines by more and more Filipinos. We want to be able to show that Filipinos can play rugby and we’ve proven that over the last decade. It’s a matter of growing the sport, from the youth all the way through, boys and girls, men’s and women’s. Having the Webb Ellis Cup here has been a massive boost for that.
“The Rugby World Cup means a lot not only to the rugby community across the world but to us at Philippine Rugby. We’ve been to the Rugby Sevens World Cup and our mission for the national team is to get to the Rugby World Cup in the 15-a-side game.”
In a packed schedule of activities across the tour in Manila, the Webb Ellis Cup scaled Taal Volcano, visited Southern Plains on the opening day of a local sevens festival, and joined a number of Get Into Rugby activities across the area, where it inspired the next generation of Philippine Volcanoes. The theme of the tour has been one of engaging new players, so it seems only fitting that the last event of the tour was a rugby clinic for 100 children at the Concepcion Elementary School in Marikina City. The activity was delivered by Rugby World Cup 2019 Worldwide Partner DHL in collaboration with the Philippine Rugby Football Union, Davao Durian Rugby Club and ChildFund, through their Pass it Back programme. The children enjoyed rugby-based sessions as well as learning important life skills centred around key rugby values of passion, solidarity, integrity, respect and discipline.
From Manila the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour will continue to India in August before heading to Japan for Rugby World Cup 2019 one year to go celebrations. The tour will excite the global rugby family and drive fan engagement ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019.
Rugby World Cup 2019 takes place from 20 September – 2 November 2019. There has been strong demand for Rugby World Cup 2019 with more than 2.5 million ticket applications already received.