With Rugby World Cup 2019 kick-off just three days away, World Rugby has announced that its ground-breaking Impact Beyond legacy programme has achieved 1.8 million new rugby participants across Asia, including more than one million in Japan.
Started in 2016, the innovative Impact Beyond project is a crucial factor in World Rugby’s mission to grow the game globally and make a positive impact through the power of rugby.
The on-going legacy programme – a partnership between World Rugby, the Japan Rugby Football Union and Asia Rugby – surpassed all expectations by achieving its target of one million new rugby participants in Asia a year early.
In Japan alone more than 769,000 schoolchildren have been introduced to tag rugby in more than 6,000 elementary schools. Crucially for the long-term legacy, the programme has also included the training of 10,622 tag teachers who will continue to inspire and engage future generations long after Rugby World Cup 2019 has finished.
Rugby and its character building values has the power to positively impact lives and thanks to its partnership with principal Rugby World Cup 2019 charity ChildFund Pass It Back, 25,000 vulnerable children in Asia will have the opportunity to transform their lives through a rugby and life skills programme.
The Pass It Back initiative led by ChildFund in partnership with World Rugby and Asia Rugby in countries including Laos, Philippines and Vietnam will receive £2 million pledged by the global rugby family in a wonderful display of generosity and solidarity from rugby fans, worldwide partners and individual donors.
Children with little or no access to organised sport will benefit from the support and receive important learning opportunities around leadership, problem-solving, gender equality and conflict-resolution.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The incredible achievement of reaching 1.8 million new rugby participants in Asia through the Impact Beyond legacy programme is a wonderful example of the outstanding efforts being put into action to convert this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow rugby in Asia and around the globe.
“Perhaps the most important ‘try’ of the tournament has already been converted as more than one million Japanese youngsters have tried out rugby for the first time.
Now the ball is passed to the players and teams to inspire many more new participants and fans with their outstanding performances on the field and their character building values off the field.
“The success of Impact Beyond is testament to the hard work of our colleagues at Asia Rugby and the unions, and my special gratitude and appreciation goes to the many thousands of volunteers who regularly give their time to support rugby programmes around the world. They are the unsung heroes of the game.
“The World Rugby Council awarded the Rugby World Cup to Japan because we believed that it could be a powerful game-changer for sporting and social change in Asia, the world’s most populous and youthful continent and the success of the Impact Beyond programme is a very important step on the journey.”
In addition to impact on the general public, Rugby World Cup 2019 will deliver a tangible legacy for Japanese infrastructure. A new stadium was built in Kamaishi, a region devastated by the 2011 tsunami, and two others have been completely refurbished, in Hanazono and Kumagaya, bringing them up to international test match level.