Rugby World Cup set to visit Durham Cathedral and Hartlepool

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Rugby fans will be able to get a glimpse of the World Cup when it visits the North East next month.

The famous William Webb Ellis trophy is on a tour of the region as part of the Festival of Rugby, with the country preparing to host the World Cup later this year.

The tour will start on August 2 when the Durham County Rugby Football Union take charge of the cup at Gateshead International Stadium, as part of the Newcastle Gateshead 2015 British Transplant Games.

Further events open to the public will take place on August 3 at Palace Green, Durham Cathedral, between 10am and 1pm, and at West Hartlepool RFC, in Hartlepool, between 12pm and 3pm, with the cup arriving at 2pm.

A number of activities will take place at each event, with people able to see the cup, watch young teams play, learn about the sport and find out how they can get involved.

Robin Wannop, chairman of the regional activities and legacy group for Durham County RFU, said: “This year is set to be momentous as England hosts the Rugby World Cup tournament, and already people are getting very excited about watching the world’s best rugby players in action.

“The Festival of Rugby, when the cup itself is taken on a tour of the country, will bring both the youngest and oldest fans together as the excitement really begins to build for the games ahead – some of which are being held here in the North East.

“It’s a wonderful game and our hope is that more and more young people play the game, more parents will volunteer and more businesses will lend their support.”

During the event at West Hartlepool Rugby Club, its new £900,000 clubhouse will be opened by one of the stars of England’s 2003 World Cup-winning team, Jason Leonard.

Club secretary Graham Frankland said: “It was a very special moment when we were named as one of the very few clubs that would host the cup.

“To get this opportunity is amazing and to open the clubhouse while the trophy is here will be a fantastic occasion.”