World cup legacy programme inspires 1.8 million new rugby players in Asia
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World cup legacy programme inspires 1.8 million new rugby players in Asia

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A grassroots campaign aiming to create a lasting legacy for the 2019 Rugby World Cup has resulted in nearly 2 million players taking up the sport in Asia.

The Impact beyond programme has attracted 1.8 million new rugby participants across Asia – including more than one million in Japan, the host of this year's world cup.

First launched in 2016, the Impact Beyond project is a partnership between World Rugby, the Japan Rugby Football Union and Asia Rugby

In Japan alone more than 769,000 schoolchildren have been introduced to tag rugby in more than 6,000 elementary schools.

The programme has also included the training of 10,622 tag teachers, with the aim of creating a cohort who will continue to engage future generations long after Rugby World Cup 2019 has finished.

According to World Rugby chair Sir Bill Beaumont, the programme has surpassed all expectations by achieving its target of one million new rugby participants in Asia a year early.

“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," Beaumont said.

“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 legacy for Japan's elite rugby 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.

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A grassroots campaign aiming to create a lasting legacy for the 2019 Rugby World Cup has resulted in nearly 2 million players taking up the sport in Asia.
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