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12.04.2011 International

Rugby’s top trophy touches down at UN Headquarters ahead of World Cup

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The Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon revealed himself to be a big fan of rugby as he helped launch its premier competition today, extolling the physical and emotional health benefits that playing such sports can bring.

In a ceremony at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mr. Ban kicked off the 2011

Rugby World Cup, which will take place at various cities and towns around New Zealand in September and October this year.

A traditional Maori haka was performed and the prestigious Webb-Ellis Cup, awarded to the World Cup champions, was on display during the ceremony, attended by diplomatic representatives of the 20 participating teams in the competition.

In his remarks Mr. Ban noted that the International Rugby Board, which stages the World Cup, has worked with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to spotlight the problem of hunger around the globe.

“For seven years, through the Tackle Hunger programme, you have raised awareness and funds that make a meaningful difference in people's lives,” he said.

“Rugby is a popular sport that promotes health, teamwork and friendship. In these difficult times, when people are struggling with poverty, conflict, sometimes both – rugby can offer a chance for joy and fun.”

Mr. Ban, who was joined at the event by Helen Clark, the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and former prime minister of New Zealand, admitted that his on-field talent at rugby union has some way to go before it can match his off-field passion for the sport.

“I love to watch rugby but the truth is I do not play it too well,” the Secretary-General confessed.

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