Gallery: Rugby trophy comes to region as country builds up to World Cup

Troops from Wattisham accompany the Webb Ellis Trophy.

Troops from Wattisham accompany the Webb Ellis Trophy.

The Webb Ellis trophy – the Rugby World Cup – has been on a tour of the region as part of the build-up to this autumn’s tournament which starts next month.

The trophy visited Lowestoft, Ipswich and Colchester on Tuesday before heading west to Cambridge.

In Ipswich it visited Cromwell Square, next to the statue to “Flying Prince” Alexander Obolensky who was an England star of the 1930s until he was killed in a flying accident at Martlesham Heath in 1940.

Scores of fans queued up to have their photographs taken with the golden trophy, including a group of service personnel from Wattisham Airfield.

Among the visitors was Princess Alexandra Obolensky, Prince Obolensky’s niece, who said her uncle would have been very keen to have taken part in the World Cup.

She said: “Times were very different then. But he was very proud to represent England and had there been a World Cup then, he would have been very keen to take part.”

Ipswich is not known as a rugby town, but mayor Glen Chisholm welcomed the trophy and said that the level of interest it had generated showed how the game was attracting new fans in the area.

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And John Phoenix, chairman of the Eastern Counties Rugby Union insisted that the game was in good shape in the region.

The number of people playing was significant – and two clubs from the region, Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge, were now in the third tier of the professional game.

He said: “Even though it’s a normal working Tuesday we have had good crowds here and at Lowestoft – and we are looking forward to going to Colchester where the Red Devils will be arriving with us.”

The Rugby World Cup kicks off at Twickenham on September 18 when England take on Fiji, and reaches its climax at the same venue on October 31 when the final takes place.