World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont believes that Rugby World Cup 2023 will play a transformational role for rugby on and off the field as a vehicle for raising and tackling environmental issues, tackling discrimination, providing opportunities for young people and delivering the economic stimulus for rugby and France in post-pandemic recovery.

Speaking on the eve of the Rugby World Cup 2023 Draw in Paris, Beaumont spoke warmly about the role that major events must play for the host nation, but also as a platform for positive change and believes that France 2023 will provide an innovative blueprint for other sporting events to follow.

“Sport and physical activity have played a crucial role for society during the pandemic, keeping people physically and mentally healthy and we have worked hard to get rugby back around the world.

“Sport is the very fabric of society. It is the glue which bonds communities together and it will be a vehicle for transformational change at Rugby World Cup 2023.

“It is no longer simply a case of what France can do for Rugby World Cup, but what the tournament can do for France, its society, sporting infrastructure and economy.

“For the first time, with the full support of the French government and cities, it will deliver a legacy for positive, impactful societal and environmental legacy through education, innovation and practice.”

Rugby World Cup 2023 will target five key pillars for the tournament’s legacy: acting for sustainability and a circular economy, supporting education, training and employment, respecting and protecting the environment and championing diversity, inclusivity and gender equality.

Through internships, scholarships and inclusion programmes, it aims to prepare a new generation of young people to engage with the sport and shape its future direction on and off the field.

“Rugby World Cup is the world in union, it is the power of bringing people together and we are committed to ensuring that this tournament sets a leading and positive example as a celebration of diversity and inclusivity. 

“Just as we have worked hard to close the gender gap and promote the enormous contributions of women in our sport on and off the field, we must also promote diversity throughout the sport.”

France 2023 will take a leap forward from exceptional outcomes achieved at Japan 2019, which attracted two million new participants to the sport, achieved a 99 per cent attendance rate, set a new fanzone attendance record of 1.13 million and delivered a record nationwide economic impact of £4.3 billion.

“Tomorrow, we will learn the composition of the four pools that will deliver those magical moments everyone wants to see from a Rugby World Cup. For many fans, after the toughest of years with the pandemic, it will feel like an early Christmas, and I can’t wait to discover what the big matches will be in the pool stage.

“I am also very excited about the tournament. With a little under three years to go, preparations continue on track despite the pandemic. France 2023 will be a tournament for all of France and rugby. It will also play an enormous role in the sport’s recovery from the pandemic, economically and symbolically, and as a platform to engage with new audiences around the world.”

Beaumont, the father of three rugby-playing sons, said that the Draw brings the curtain down on a challenging year, but has great resolve to begin an exciting new year with renewed vigour.

“I would like to wish the global family a safe and peaceful holiday season,” he said. “I am proud of how we have responded to the pandemic from the grassroots to the elite level. We can begin 2021 – a huge Rugby World Cup and Olympic year – with a smile and great optimism. Thank you all.”

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