MARK Pawsey MP has returned from New Zealand after presenting a rugby ball on behalf of Rugbeians to New Zealand’s sports minister.
The gesture, billed as ‘the worlds’s longest pass’, was organised by Rugby Borough Council to promote the town as a tourist destination for rugby fans.
Mr Pawsey also made up part of the Parliamentary Lions rugby team, who competed against other parliamentary teams from across the world. The trip was funded by MPs themselves.
Mr Pawsey said: “It was great for me to be able to tell rugby enthusiasts from across the world about our town’s special connection with the game.
“I passed on a Gilbert ball bearing good wishes from the people here in Rugby and the headmaster of Rugby School which had previously been passed to me on The Close in Rugby.
“I, in turn, passed it to Murray McCully, New Zealand’s sports minister, who thankfully caught my pass and touched the ball down. In doing so we are claiming this as the world’s longest pass.”
Mr Pawsey also managed to score a try in the Lions’ last match of the tour – his first for 20 years.
A spokesman from Rugby Borough Council said: “We have a good relationship with the International Rugby Board and were therefore able to get official endorsement from the Rugby World Cup Limited (the world cup organisers) and Gilbert, the ball suppliers.
“By raising our profile in this way we hope to encourage overseas and UK visitors to visit Rugby and give ourselves further opportunities to promote the town ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2015, which will be held in England.”
“There will be a chance for Rugby people to see the standard of the parliamentarians’ play when they take on a team made up of veteran players from across the town on The Close at Rugby School on Sunday October 9. Kick-off is at 2.30pm and the event will be a fundraiser for the Warwickshire & Northants air ambulance.