NEW YORK – United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon and the Rugby World Cup trophy, the Webb Ellis Cup, helped the Eagles kick off their Road to the World Cup campaign at the UN Headquarters on Monday.
Ki-moon welcomed the delegates and the audience, but the audience surely wasn't prepared for what Ki-moon had embedded in his speech; a fantastic sense of humor.
"There are a lot of similarities between rugby and diplomacy: you lose teeth and you can even lose face...Scrums are as confusing to those unfamiliar with the game, just as speeches can be in diplomacy," said Ki-moon.
The Secretary General also lamented that he was "never good enough to play loose head prop, or tight head prop, and certainly never played hooker."
The crowd was delighted with his speech and he highlighted the importance of sport and the power it has to unite people. USA Rugby CEO, Nigel Melville, presented the Secretary General with an Eagles jersey and the New Zealand mission to the UN gave Ki-moon a New Zealand All Blacks jersey.
USA Eagle team captains, Mike Petri and Todd Clever, were on hand to represent their team at the event as were International Rugby Board (IRB) chairman, Bernard Lapasset and CEO Mike Miller.
Lapasset showcased the growth of rugby in recent years and recognized that the sport has a proud tradition of promoting social change and helping those in need.
"The Rugby World Cup is a symbol of the power of sport to drive social change. In the hands of Nelson Mandela in 1995, it helped unite a nation. We hope that it will continue to inspire future generations to participate, to express themselves, to have fun.
We are proud of our sport's ability to make a difference. The global rugby family united behind Christchurch after the devastating earthquake in February and is rallying behind Japan," said Lapasset.
The IRB's "Tackle Hunger" program raised over 3 million dollars to benefit the United Nations World Food Program and will use the 2011 RWC to promote the worthy program to the audience.
Before the Secretary General spoke, ambassadors from the 20 participating nations met in the General Assembly Hall and had an opportunity to pose with the Webb Ellis Cup. Plenty of playful banter was exchanged between the representatives, some claiming the Cup will look better in their respective countries.
The Eagles have their first World Cup warm up match in London on June 4 where they will face the England Saxons.
Jarrod Beckstrom | Communications Manager | USA Rugby | email@example.com
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