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Rugby World Cup: Welcome to the Rugby World Cup

08:00 18 September 2015

Newham

Newham's St Angela's School choir perform during the Welcome Ceremony for New Zealand's All Blacks at The Tower of London (pic: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for ER2015)

2015 Getty Images

Six-week event to capture the imagination

Newham is a host city for the 2015 Rugby World CupNewham is a host city for the 2015 Rugby World Cup

So, the 2015 Rugby World Cup is here and what’s not to love about a global competition throwing the best teams on the planet together in pursuit of their own sporting Holy Grail?

This shouldn’t be a tournament just for rugby fans to enjoy, more something for all to embrace, rekindling the spirit of the London 2012 Olympics.

The next six weeks are sure to produce hours of excitement, skill, drama, joy and pain and, who knows, maybe even a home winner?

I was never a big fan of rugby as a youngster myself, but that was more to do with a fear of getting hurt while playing the sport during PE lessons at Robert Clack School.

Newham Knights youngsters with the Webb Ellis Cup at East London RFC (pic: Newham Council)Newham Knights youngsters with the Webb Ellis Cup at East London RFC (pic: Newham Council)

I was only truly interested in football, but I remember our teacher Mr Oram, your typically tough Welshman, saying he could stop me playing for my club team if their games would clash with a school rugby fixture.

Thankfully I was not good enough to get into the school team and rugby was not that big a deal in a Dagenham comprehensive in the mid-1980s.

But I’m proud to say Clack has gone on to enjoy much success on the rugby field and my love of rugby has also blossomed in the decades since.

England’s destruction at the hands of four-try All Black legend Jonah Lomu at the 1995 World Cup evokes fond memories of being with university friends in Cornwall and I was on the edge of my seat at home as Jonny won the 2003 title with his dramatic late drop goal against the Aussies.

Young rugby players next to the Webb Ellis Cup at Woodford RFC as part of the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour (pic: Chris Radburn/Press Association for England Rugby 2015)Young rugby players next to the Webb Ellis Cup at Woodford RFC as part of the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour (pic: Chris Radburn/Press Association for England Rugby 2015)

I always look forward to the Six Nations each spring, and love the tribal passions that are stirred up during the national anthems, and I defy anyone to say they honestly do not enjoying the sheer drama of watching the All Blacks perform the Haka.

I was fortunate enough to see England beat the All Blacks at Twickenham in November 1993, when Jon Callard kicked four penalties in a 15-9 success, and it was great to be back at the stadium for England’s warm-up win over Ireland recently as ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ drifted down from the stands.

But the sport of rugby is built on its grassroots and the many clubs dotted around the country and it’s great to stand on the touchline watching rival teams going at it hammer and tongs.

I’ve witnessed some excellent contests on our local pitches, the battles between Campion and Old Cooperians spring instantly to mind, and also seen some great young talent on display from those schools during the Natwest Cup competition.

Our east and north London clubs are getting their own campaigns underway as this World Cup begins and all will be getting into the party mood, no doubt. Why not join in?

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