THE biggest prize in international rugby has paid a visit to Portsmouth.
The Webb Ellis Cup was brought to the city as part of a 100-day tour of the UK and Ireland in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup.
The cup was displayed for memebers of Portsmouth rugby clubs at the Spinnaker Tower before it was taken aboard HMS Victory.
The trophy was then brought to the sports fields of HMS Temeraire where a tag rugby tournament for youngsters was underway.
Cheers greeted the cup as it was set up on a podium and hundreds of rugby fans formed a queue to have their photos taken standing next to it.
Hampshire rugby development officer Kieran Spencer, 32, said the world cup was generating a lot excitement not only in Portsmouth, but across the country.
He said: ‘What we’re hoping to achieve is maximum participation and celebrate everything that’s great about rugby.’
Southsea Nomads Rugby Club secretary Steve Hardman, 38, said he hoped the event would encourage more people to take up the sport.
He said: ‘It’s becoming more popular by the year but the thing we need is an extra kick and the world cup is going to give us that. It’s a sport that fosters good team spirit and encourages people to give something back.’
One young rugby player, Oliver Frazer, 11, from Milton, said he was thrilled to stand next to the Webb Ellis Cup.
What we’re hoping to achieve is maximum participation and celebrate everything that’s great about rugbyKieran Spencer
Oliver said: ‘It was good to see what England will hopefully win this year.’
Teammate Bradley Jewer 13, from Hilsea, said: ‘It’s good to be here today for fitness, and to see the cup.’
Portsmouth City Council leader Councillor Donna Jones said the cup’s visit came on the back of a swell of sporting success for the city including the America’s Cup World Series, the Portsmouth Triathlon, Tour de France bid and Great South Run.
She said: ‘Having the Webb Ellis Cup here is helping to put Portsmouth on the international map as a city aspiring to be one of the UK’s top sporting destinations.’
The cup will run from September 18 to October 31.