A British warship has proudly sailed into Cape Town carrying the Rugby World Cup Trophy – ahead of next year’s event being held in the UK. Even thick rain clouds could not prevent HMS Iron Duke displaying the gold of the Web Ellis Trophy on her deck as she arrived in the South African city for a short visit.
The Web Ellis Trophy is currently on a world tour to promote the Rugby World Cup, while Portsmouth based Iron Duke is currently deployed on Atlantic Patrol Tasking – with both arriving in Cape Town at the same time.
British High Commissioner to South Africa, Judith Macgregor, said: “I am delighted to welcome the Webb Ellis Cup to South Africa, a country with a rich rugby heritage.
“The trophy has a particular resonance in South Africa and particularly Johannesburg, where South Africa won Rugby World Cup at Ellis Park in 1995. I look forward to watching South Africa in action 20 years later at Rugby World Cup 2015 in England.”
On its fifth leg of the Rugby World Cup tour, the Webb Ellis Trophy was brought onboard the ship as she made her way into berth at the Victoria and Albert Waterfront.
Once she came alongside the ship’s rugby team were given the opportunity to visit Newlands Rugby Stadium and take part in the ‘DHL Challenge’ – a series of mini competitions with Rugby World Cup winner Martin Corry MBE and South African cricketer Jacques Kallis. Sub Lieutenant Oliver Gwinnutt, said:
“The opportunity to throw a rugby ball around with two big sporting personalities at a fantastic stadium was a once in a lifetime opportunity and not something I am going to forget anytime soon.
“It was surreal to think that morning I had been on the Bridge bringing the ship in and by the afternoon I was playing rugby in Cape Town with a World Cup winner.”
On Tuesday morning the England 2015 organizers announced that the Portsmouth Royal Navy Rugby Union (HMS Temeraire) will host to the USA team during next year’s competition – a facility familiar to many of Portsmouth based Iron Duke’s ships company.
During her short stay in the “Mother City” more than 3,000 people took the opportunity to visit Iron Duke and find out more about life in the Royal Navy. Lieutenant Commander Lyndsey Netherwood, the ship’s Executive Officer, said:
“The opportunity for the public to look around the ship was really well received and the public were very interested in interacting with our sailors and seeing what a Royal Navy Warship is capable of doing.
“The visit was an all round success and enjoyable for all, it’s been a good opportunity to showcase the Royal Navy and for members of the ship’s company to enjoy some well deserved time ashore.”
MS Iron Duke left Portsmouth on 20 Junes deploying on Atlantic Patrol Tasking (South). She will maintain a continuous Royal Navy presence in the Atlantic, providing reassurance to British interests within the region including the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.