World Rugby Hall of Fame to be located in Rugby, birthplace of the game
Rugby's greats and the moments that defined the sport will be celebrated in a permanent home for the first time.
It comes after World Rugby and Rugby Borough Council announced details of an exciting partnership that will see the World Rugby Hall of Fame located in Rugby, the birthplace of the sport.
The fully-interactive and immersive museum will integrate the latest technological innovations and themed museographic approach to showcase rugby, its rich heritage and character-building values like never before. Combining World Rugby's expansive video archive and historical memorabilia, the Hall of Fame will invite visitors from all over the world to immerse themselves in a unique experience that explores the moments and personalities that have defined a game that began in Rugby in 1823 and has since developed into one of the world's fastest-growing team sports played by 7.7 million men, women and children across 121 national unions affiliated to World Rugby.
The World Rugby Hall of Fame will be located within the art gallery, museum and library building in the heart of the town and is scheduled to open its doors to visitors in late 2016. The entity will enable Rugby to establish an even stronger bond with its place in history as the birthplace of the sport, following the success of Rugby World Cup 2015, where it was the designated 'proud home' and attracted nearly 40,000 fans to a dedicated programme of activities during the tournament.
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.”
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 Rugby World Cup '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."
Fan-engagement and experience will be at the heart of a project that sets out to encourage visitors to learn about the game and inspire them to Get Into Rugby, either as a player or as a fan. An innovative and engaging interactive format will also provide a unique learning experience and by partnering with Rugby Borough Council, the World Rugby Hall of Fame aims to support the community through community education programmes, creating a closer connection between the sport and the town.
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 property 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.