The birthplace of the game will now be home to the World Rugby Hall of Fame in a move which could bring a massive boost to the town as tourists come to this world-class tourist attraction.
The groundbreaking deal between World Rugby and Rugby Borough Council will see rugby’s greats and the moments that defined the sport celebrated in a permanent home for the first time – on the first floor at the town’s art gallery, museum and library.
World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper was at a celebration of the launch today, Friday and said: “We looked at several possible destinations but the natural fit was to come to the birthplace of the game.”
He said the first two names inducted into the Hall of Fame were William Webb Ellis and Rugby School so he hoped it would create a major destination for the millions of rugby fans around the globe.
He added they would look to host dinners, epcial events and some of the inductions here in Rugby.
Incoming World Rugby Chairman, RFU Chairman and Hall of Fame inductee Bill Beaumont added: “Rugby has a unique status within the sport as the birthplace of the game and will provide a fitting and popular home for the World Rugby Hall of Fame.
“As the Rugby World Cup’s ‘proud home’, Rugby was a popular and vibrant destination for fans from all over the world during a glorious six-week celebration of the sport and its character-building values.
“Having visited the town during that period, the enthusiasm of the local community was very evident, not just because of the Rugby World Cup connection, but because they are proud of their indelible link to where our game began and I am sure that the World Rugby Hall of Fame will further their enthusiasm and connection with the sport.”
The fully-interactive museum will use the latest technological innovations to showcase rugby, its rich heritage and character-building values like never before.
It will combine World Rugby’s expansive video archive and historical memorabilia, to offer visitors from all over the world the chance to explore the moments and personalities of a sport now played by 7.7 million men, women and children across 121 national unions affiliated to World Rugby.
The Hall of Fame is scheduled to open its doors to visitors in late 2016.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “We are delighted to be bringing the World Rugby Hall of Fame to life through the provision of a physical home for the first time.
“Having a destination to celebrate and honour the achievements of those who have shaped the sport and inspired generations of players, coaches and referees is a very exciting development.
“Rugby is the birthplace of the sport and a destination for fans from around the globe and for World Rugby to have a connection with the sport’s heritage is good for the town, the sport and sports fans.
“I would like to thank Rugby Borough Council and the people of Rugby for their passion and support of the project and for sharing our vision.”
The plans were approved unanimously at special meetingof Rugby Borough Council yesterday evening, Thursday.
Leader of the council Cllr Michael Stokes said: “Rugby is the ‘proud home of the game’ and I’m delighted that as a result of this partnership between the Council and World Rugby that it will also be the home of a world-class visitor attraction and here for many years to come as a destination for visitors from around the world.
“Our involvement in Rugby World Cup 2015 raised the profile of the birthplace of the game across the world. I am especially pleased that hosting the World Rugby Hall of Fame will continue the work that we have started.
“Here in Rugby we are rightly proud of our heritage, and this agreement means that we will have a visitor attraction that is fit for the future.”
The World Rugby Hall of Fame was established by World Rugby in 2006, absorbing the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014. So far, 120 greats have been inducted, honouring the pioneers, the visionaries and the great players and coaches.
To find out more about the World Rugby Hall of Fame, visit www.worldrugby.org/halloffame