World Rugby's Hall of Fame in Rugby provided the departure point for the Women's Rugby World Cup trophy as it heads across the Irish Sea for more than four months of activities across the island of Ireland.
Tournament partners Land Rover delivered the Women's Rugby World Cup trophy to Hall of Fame inductee No.132 and England's WRWC winner Maggie Alphonsi ahead of the 12-team tournament in Dublin and Belfast from 9-26 August.
The trophy tour, which will take in more than 100 events across 140 days before the tournament begins at UCD Bowl in Dublin, will be the largest ever undertaken for a Women's Rugby World Cup, demonstrating the success and appeal of women’s rugby, one of the world’s fastest-growing team sports.
The World Rugby Hall of Fame opened in November 2016 and is already proving a hit, with visitors travelling from all over the world to experience the free and innovative celebration of the players and moments that have shaped a sport that began nearby at Rugby School.
The Rugby World Cup 2015 Trophy Tour also visited Rugby and World Rugby has announced its intention that all future Rugby World Cup, Women’s Rugby World Cup and Rugby World Cup Sevens trophy tours will depart from the sport's birthplace.
World Rugby Chairman and Hall of Fame inductee No.94 Bill Beaumont said: “We are excited to see the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 Trophy Tour departing from Rugby on its way to Ireland for the tournament in August.
“Rugby has its origins in Rugby town and we are excited that it will provide the destination for the ceremonial departure of all future tours. It links recognition of our past to our future and what a future we have in front of us as the world’s best women’s teams compete in the biggest global rugby event of 2017.”
Alphonsi added: “I am looking forward to what promises to be a very special event at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland later this year.
“It is fitting and exciting that the trophy tour will depart from the birthplace of the game here in Rugby and, as a Hall of Fame inductee and a Women’s Rugby World Cup winner, it is something that I am particularly honoured to be a part of.”
Irish Rugby Football Union Chief Executive Philip Browne said: "We are very excited about hosting WRWC 2017 this August and we are looking forward to welcoming the trophy to Ireland this week. Over 100 clubs and schools from across the island have applied to host the trophy, so supporters from all 32 counties will get a chance to see the trophy before they come to Dublin and Belfast to support the tournament in August.”
The trophy tour will be on show at Ireland's final Women's Six Nations match against England on Friday in Dublin. Tickets for #WRWC2017 are on sale and more information can be found at rwcwomens.com.
Photo credit: Joe Bailey @FiveSix Photopgraphy / World Rugby