allblacks.com 04.May.2012Getty Images
The Rugby World Cup 2011 Final may have been six months ago, but the positive effects of rugby's showcase tournament continue with rugby within the Oceania region set to benefit from the delivery of key training equipment to the Pacific Islands thanks to the dedicated Legacy Programme.
The initiative, a key element of the official Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011) Legacy Programme, underscores the joint strategic objectives of the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU), the International Rugby Board (IRB) and the New Zealand Government to deliver a world class tournament that would benefit the Pacific Islands.
Market-leading equipment used by the 20 participating unions at New Zealand 2011, including scrum machines, tackle bags, hit shields, tackle suits, contact suits and post pads, will be distributed across the 13 Unions affiliated to the Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU) Regional Association.
Men, women and children at all levels of the game from American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis et Futuna will benefit from the equipment. It will be transported free-of-charge courtesy of RWC 2011 Worldwide Partner DHL with Cook Islands' equipment arriving this week.
To launch the programme, RWC 2011 winning All Black Jerome Kaino accompanied the Webb Ellis Cup to the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands Rugby Union is one of the first to receive a shipment of rugby equipment just as it hosts the FORU Annual General Meeting.
NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew said: "Pacific rugby fans - both in New Zealand and their Island homelands - added something special to the tournament. It was great to see the Pacific communities both here and in the Islands make the most of a home away from home advantage. It's only fitting that we share the success of the tournament through the distribution of equipment that for these unions is not always easy to acquire."
Chris McKinley, Cook Islands Rugby Union President, said the union wanted to thank Rugby World Cup Ltd, NZRU and the New Zealand Government for the RWC 2011 equipment that had been given to them.
"This will be very well used in our upcoming season and will certainly lift the look and standard of our game. We are very grateful and believe this will also raise the profile of our high performance unit we are presently setting up."
William Glenwright, IRB General Manager Oceania, said: "Rugby in Oceania is going from strength to strength. The distribution of RWC 2011 equipment to the FORU Unions is invaluable and underscores that the event, hosted in Oceania, was truly an event for the Oceania rugby family.
"The RWC legacy programme is another example of the collective commitment to the ongoing development of rugby throughout the region and particularly in the Pacific Islands. "
This announcement is another success story for an event that exceeded all revenue, ticketing and visitor number forecasts, enhanced New Zealand's stature as a major event host and tourism destination and further enhanced the RWC brand on the global stage.
The commercial success of the tournament has enabled the IRB to invest over NZD $300 million in the Game between 2009 and 2012 with NZD $34 million going directly to Oceania to assist with competitions, development, training and education initiatives.
The arrival of the RWC 2011 legacy equipment is perfect timing as the Pacific Island Member Unions start preparing for a busy two year schedule of RWC qualification tournaments for both Fifteens and Sevens rugby.
Qualification tournaments for men's and women's RWC Sevens 2013 take place in Australia and Fiji later this year and on Tuesday the IRB announced the 2013 Oceania Cup as the first step in the Oceania qualification pathway for RWC 2015.
DHL RWC Manager Transport & Logistics Frederick Donovan said: "As a Worldwide partner of RWC 2011, DHL was committed to delivering Rugby to the world and when the opportunity of delivering the legacy equipment to the Pacific Island nations presented itself, we could not think of a more appropriate project to complement the transport and logistical involvement DHL provided during RWC 2011. On this fantastic project we also had assistance from Reef Shipping, in particular the legendary Samoa and New Zealand flanker Michael Jones."