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All Blacks handover Rugby World Cup

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irb.com and James Mortimer     19 Nov 2013     Getty Images

With less than two years to go until Rugby World Cup 2015 takes place in England, the Webb Ellis Cup will now be used to promote the eighth edition of the showpiece event which takes place from 18 September to 31 October 2015.

McCaw held aloft the Cup just over two years ago at Eden Park after the All Blacks beat France 8-7 to end a 24-year wait for a second RWC success and in the two years since the trophy has toured New Zealand and allowed thousands of fans to get up close to it.

Last year the Great Rugby Road Trip took the Webb Ellis Cup – affectionately known as ‘Wiremu’ during its stay in New Zealand – to 41 towns and cities from the far north to the deep south of the country.

The Cup recently embarked on another epic journey with it leaving New Zealand and stopping off in the three other countries to have lifted to trophy before arriving in Ireland on Sunday.

RWC 1987 winner Grant Fox accompanied the Cup on its epic journey and was joined at each stop by George Gregan, Joel Stransky, John Smit and Lawrence Dallaglio, who have all held aloft the trophy.

The Cup left New Zealand shores on 26 October, crossing the Tasman to Sydney where it was met by RWC 1999 winner and 2003 runner-up Gregan, who joined Fox in a coaching session with local children.

It was straight on to South Africa then with stopovers in Johannesburg and Cape Town where it was met by Joel Stransky – who kicked the winning drop goal in extra-time in the RWC 1995 final – and RWC 2007 winning captain John Smit respectively.

The Cup took the skies in a helicopter over both cities with Stransky and Smit stopping off at schools in underprivileged areas for coaching clinics with youngsters given a potential once in a lifetime opportunity to see it up close.

England Rugby 2015 Ambassador Lawrence Dallaglio welcomed the Cup to English soil at East Midlands Airport on 30 October, just in time for celebrations to mark 10 years since Martin Johnson lifted the trophy in Sydney.

“There are a select few people that have had the privilege of lifting this trophy, so to have been able to meet some of the legends who have done so in the past week has been truly memorable,” said Fox upon arrival in England.

“It’s been a long, yet worthwhile trip and its fantastic to be part of the team that have brought the trophy onto English soil two years away from what I have no doubt will be an exceptionally successful tournament.”

RWC 1987 winner Sean Fitzpatrick and former Ireland captain Keith Wood were the final Ambassadors on hand to welcome the Webb Ellis Cup to Dublin, hosting a special Q&A with competition winners.

“Each Rugby World Cup takes our sport to new levels on and off the field, reaching and engaging new audiences and inspiring new participants. New Zealand 2011 was a memorable, exceptional and ultimately successful Rugby World Cup for the host nation, the host team and global Rugby,” said Lapasset.

“In receiving our iconic Webb Ellis Cup from the All Blacks we can now look forward to the next Rugby World Cup in England and an event that is on track to welcome new members to the Rugby family from new communities across the host nation and beyond.”

McCaw added: “It is a funny old thing to hand it back, but I think every time I see the Cup I always get reminded of the amount of energy and what you have got to put in to winning the thing. Looking forward to 2015 it will take the same amount of that type of work and attitude and everything coming together and you have got to be prepared to do that if you want to win it again. Having to hand it back I think that has probably been a reminder to myself what happens in two years' time as a lot of work needs to go in again.”