World Cup trophy set for Tower date

Rugby's most prestigious prize, the William Webb Ellis trophy
Rugby's most prestigious prize, the William Webb Ellis trophy
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One of sport’s most iconic trophies is set to appear on the Fylde coast as part of a major tour ahead of the Rugby World Cup later this year.

The William Webb Ellis trophy, named after the Rugby School student who famously helped to create the sport, will appear at Blackpool Tower Ballroom on Tuesday.

Former Fylde, England and British Lions captain Bill Beaumont will be joined by Paralympic silver medallist Shelly Woods, with rugby activites taking place on the Comedy Carpet outside the Tower.

The Rugby World Cup starts in England in September.

Organiser Mike Dickinson said: “It is an exciting time for us all. We will take the trophy up to the top of the Tower, then it will go on show in the ballroom.

“In some ways it is like the Olympic Torch in 2012. The trophy has visited many parts of England and is on its way to Blackpool.

“We will have the events team from Twickenham, the home of English rugby, on the Comedy Carpet. There will be a passing wall and a line-out wall for people to enjoy.

“As far as the England team is concerned, we have a much improved side.

“We should do quite well. It is a home world cup and the crowds should get behind them – at the least they should reach the semi-finals.”

England famously won the trophy in 2003 thanks to Jonny Wilkinson’s extra time drop kick, followed by South Africa in 2007 and New Zealand in 2011.

A Rugby World Cup spokesman said: “The Trophy Tour will visit the North West following a 12-month journey around the world as part of a celebration of Rugby and marks the countdown to Rugby World Cup 2015 Opening Ceremony at Twickenham Stadium on September 18.

“The Webb Ellis Cup is in the North West for seven days, taking in iconic sites and engaging with grassroots Rugby programmes, local clubs and fans. VIP guests will also join the Trophy Tour as it visits a number of locations around the country, including host venue Manchester City Stadium.”