How Rugby Is Tackling World Hunger

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Image Caption: Children in Madagascar take part in an IRB/WFP rugby match as part of the Webb Ellis trophy tour. Copyright: IRB

With less than a year to go until one of the most anticipated sports events worldwide, there is one issue that rugby teams are gearing up to tackle off the pitch – world hunger.

In a world where hunger kills more people than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, the Rugby community is doing what it does best and taking action in an ambitious push to raise awareness and much-needed funds for the issue in the lead-up to Rugby World Cup 2015.

Tackle Hunger, a joint-initiative between the International Rugby Board and the UN World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, was first established for Rugby World Cup 2003 and has been a feature of every Rugby World Cup since.

For Rugby World Cup 2015, the campaign will focus on the ‘Million Meal Challenge’ which aims to raise funds for one million meals for children who rely on WFP’s school feeding programmes worldwide. In countries such as Kenya, Liberia and Bangladesh, WFP school meals are often the only regular and nutritious meal a child receives. More than this, school meals act as a magnet to get children into the classroom and keep them there.

The IRB recognises that nutrition and healthy eating are crucial to becoming a successful sportsperson and this is the same for every man, woman and child worldwide.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “We are calling on fans to join us in supporting the Million Meal Challenge to help nourish the bodies and minds of those who face a daily challenge of malnutrition and starvation.’

WFP’s Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, praised the potential of the partnership:

“WFP is instrumental in ensuring that young children get the food they need to reach their full physical and intellectual potential,” she said. “The Tackle Hunger partnership with the IRB shows how the global rugby community can play an instrumental role in supporting our work on the frontlines of hunger.”

It costs just US$50 to provide a child with school meals for a year. WFP provided 19.8 million children with school meals in 2013 – and funds raised around the Rugby World Cup 2015 will ensure that more poor households send their children to school so that they can pursue their ambitions.

More than US$21,000 has already been raised by voluntary ticket sale donations, and WFP and the IRB are calling on the rugby community to raise awareness of the campaign and donate in the lead up to next year’s Rugby World Cup.

With more than 2.3 million fans expected to attend the 48-match, six-week showcase, WFP and IRB expect the Tackle Hunger message to feature prominently and stay in people’s minds long after the games have ended.

How can you help Tackle Hunger?