It isn’t often you find yourself in the midst of one of the greatest sporting build ups worldwide – but that’s exactly what happened today when the Webb Ellis Cup, which will be awarded to winners of this year’s Rugby World Cup, made its way to the World Food Programme’s headquarters in Rome.
With less than 250 days until the Rugby World Cup kicks off, the Webb Ellis Cup – named after the man credited with inventing the game of rugby – has toured the world for the past nine months. It called in at WFP to pay tribute to the agency’s joint ‘Tackle Hunger’ partnership with World Rugby, which raises money and awareness for the fight against hunger.
Central to this campaign is the ‘Million Meal Challenge’ – which aims to raise funds for one million meals for children who rely on WFP’s school feeding programmes worldwide.
The power of sport to create change
World Rugby recognises that sport has the ability to bring people together and motivate social change that can make a real difference.
Speaking at the Webb Ellis Cup presentation, World Rugby Head of Communications, Dominic Rumbles, said: “Sport can break down barriers, boost self-esteem, and engage men, women and children across the world.” The Webb Ellis Cup, he said, is “the ultimate symbol of the power of sport to drive change, having been presented by Nelson Mandela in 1995, shortly after the end of apartheid.”
WFP’s Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, highlighted the importance of this partnership and its impact on children’s futures: “There is a strong link between good nutrition that supports physical and intellectual development and helps to nurture sporting excellence. This is exactly what the ‘Tackle Hunger’ partnership is striving to promote.”
A worldwide reach
Nowhere has this link been more prominent than on the Webb Ellis global trophy tour. Having visited countries, such as rugby-mad Madagascar, where children also benefit from WFP School Meals, the relationship between food and sporting and learning potential couldn’t be clearer.
WFP and World Rugby have been partners for more than ten years, during which time awareness and money has been raised to fight hunger worldwide – most notably in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami whose 10th anniversary we have just marked.