Rugby School in the United Kingdom, the birthplace of the game, is marking its 450th anniversary in 2017. As part of the school’s celebrations, a special rugby ball is being passed around the world this year.
The global campaign will see Old Rugbeians – young and old, both boys and girls – passing the ball at each of 450 major locations around the world, including on every continent, even Antarctica.
On its first stop in Asia on this 450th anniversary world tour, the Rugby School ball will visit Hong Kong during the week of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017.
Twenty-five of the passes will be made in Hong Kong. The ball will be in Hong Kong from Wednesday, 29 March to Sunday, 9 April, with the passes staged in some of the city’s most iconic destinations including the Peak, Man Mo Temple, the Star Ferry, and along the MacLehose Trail, named after one of Hong Kong’s most influential Old Rugbeians, former Governor Sir Murray MacLehose.
With the support of the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU), one of these 25 passes will take place during the beloved March Past at the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens (Saturday, 8 April).
“We were delighted to be approached by Rugby School to host one of the 450 passes in this innovative global campaign.
“The opportunity to recognise the birthplace of rugby during Hong Kong’s world-renowned Sevens week was one that we were delighted to grasp with both hands.
“We are excited to support Rugby School and the large number of alumni in Hong Kong, many of whom are involved in local rugby,” said Robbie McRobbie, Deputy CEO of the HKRU.
Peter Green, Headmaster of Rugby School, will travel to Hong Kong to mark the occasion and will visit the Sevens.
“The enthusiasm and support for the Global Pass from Old Rugbeians has been fantastic and is such a significant part of our 450th celebrations. To be in Hong Kong and witness the pass at the iconic Sevens tournament will be a personal highlight of our event-packed anniversary year,” he said.
The special 450th anniversary ball was made by Gilbert and includes a GPS tracker to follow the ball’s global process.
The ball has visited other iconic rugby destinations including Twickenham in England, where Sir Clive Woodward fielded the pass ahead of the England v Scotland match, as well as at Murrayfield the home of Scottish rugby and Melrose, site of one of the world’s longest running sevens tournaments.
The ball has also been passed at Stonehenge and at the Giant’s Causeway and in Tipperary in Ireland and was used in an Ulster rugby training session in Northern Ireland. It was passed in Florence, Italy, Red Square in Moscow, at the Louvre and Eiffel Tower in Paris, in Norway and at the grave of William Webb Ellis in Menton in southern France.
And that was all before the ball even arrives in Asia. Apart from Hong Kong, passes will also be staged in China, Singapore, Thailand, India and Afghanistan, before the ball travels to Australia and New Zealand, USA, Canada, the Caribbean and South America. In November, it will visit the North Pole.
Rugby School 450th Anniversary Passes in Hong Kong*:
Wed, 29 March: Bird Street and Happy Valley Race Track
Thur, 30 March: Sampan, Aberdeen Harbour
Fri, 31 March: Legco and Lan Kwai Fong
Sat, 1 April: Dai Pai Dong
Mon, 3 April: HSBC Lions and Skies above Hong Kong helicopter
Tues, 4 April: MacLehose Trail
Wed, 5 April: Hong Kong Stock Exchange
Thur, 6 April: Avenue of Stars
Fri, 7 April: The Peak
Sat, 8 April: Hong Kong Sevens
*Full schedule is yet to be confirmed.