From Tokyo to Auckland: Race to Rugby World Cup 2021 concludes at Eden Park after 209 days
Auckland, New Zealand – South African adventurers Ron Rutland and Adam Nunn pedalled their last kilometre through the tunnel leading to Eden Park Stadium, as they made the last stop of their epic cycling expedition which started in Tokyo, Japan – the site of the Rugby World Cup 2019 final. The duo arrived just in time to deliver the opening game’s whistle to referee Maggie Cogger-Orr to officially kick-off Rugby World Cup 2021 last month.
Spanning 209 days, 11 nations, and over 16,500km, the Race to Rugby World Cup 2021 successfully raised more than 15,000 USD for ChildFund Rugby, the tournament’s Principal Charity. The journey was supported by World Rugby, DHL, and the global rugby family who cheered for them all the way to the finish line.
This is not the first time for a quest this impressive! Three years ago, Ron Rutland and his then fellow cyclist James Owens cycled from London to Tokyo over eight months to raise funds and awareness for ChildFund Rugby, the then Principal Charity for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.
After departing from Tokyo in March 2022, the cyclists criss-crossed through 11 countries, spreading their passion for rugby and their belief in how it can be used to drive positive social impact. Both rugby and non-rugby communities welcomed the two with open arms. In the South East Asia leg of the tour, Ron and Adam caught up with Coaches and players from ChildFund Rugby’s partnerships in Vietnam and Cambodia. This leg of the trip gave them the chance to witness the impact of the work Partners do, and it was one of the highlights of their trip.
“It’s been the most incredible and also the most challenging expedition imaginable! Just getting to the starting line in Tokyo with all the ever-changing COVID restrictions in the region, was a feat in itself. The restrictions were a constant concern during the first few months of the journey,” Ron recalled how they managed to overcome one of the toughest periods of the trip. “But as the journey progressed, we were able to focus more on our pedalling, the more ‘ordinary’ ups and downs of spending 40 to 50 hours a week in the saddle, and most importantly our fundraising efforts for ChildFund Rugby.”
When Ron and Adam finally arrived at Eden Park, a throng greeted them with waves of applause. Also looking forward to their arrival were representatives from World Rugby, DHL, ChildFund Rugby, and, of course, referee Maggie Cogger-Orr who was excited to start the first game with the safe delivery of the whistle.
“It’s been inspiring seeing Ron and Adam travelling towards Auckland, and visiting the rugby community along the way, including many of our partners. We are thrilled that Ron has once again chosen to support ChildFund Rugby in his latest adventure. Their support means that more girls and women will have the opportunity to learn leadership and life skills through rugby, supporting a more impactful tournament legacy,” said Margaret Sheehan, ChildFund Australia CEO, who greeted the duo at the stadium.
After the fantastic wrap-up of this year’s RWC, the Race to Rugby World Cup adventure continues. Not letting himself (and his bicycle) rest for too long, Ron is already back on the road after being assigned to deliver the opening game’s whistle for the Rugby World Cup France 2023 on September 8th 2023 in Paris. Ron is gearing up for another epic ride, and this time it will be a 22,000km-cycling journey to Stade de France, while continuing his support for ChildFund Rugby.
A big thanks to Ron and we wish him all the best over the next ten months!