World Food Programme
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been the humanitarian partner of the International Rugby Board (IRB) since 2003.
Why Tackle Hunger?
Hunger and malnutrition are still the number one risks to health worldwide. Over one billion people across the world currently go to bed each night hungry, while one in six people do not currently get enough sustenance to lead an active and healthy life.
The WFP was established in 1963 in what was initially a three-year project to counter a growing hunger pandemic triggered by natural disasters and political change. The project was extended and over the next 30 years the number of hungry people worldwide fell from 959 million to 791 million.
However, since the 1990s, the number of chronically hungry people in developing countries has risen once again, making the need to Tackle Hunger more important than ever.
How the Rugby Community Can Help
Rugby is a team sport that is unique in the sense that it fundamentally remains a sport for all men, women and children of all shapes and sizes. It is also a sport based on community values, a big family where everyone looks after everyone else. At its core, Rugby has an identifiable spirit encompassing the values of fair play, respect, camaraderie, teamwork and friendship. As the Game's world governing body, the IRB has an obligation and a huge desire to uphold and promote both this unique spirit and values.
The Rugby community is growing. Over 3 million people worldwide play the Game and more are being attracted to the sport every day, while global television audiences and attendances are also increasing. Rugby World Cup is now the world's third largest sporting event and Rugby World Cup 2007 in France broke all previous attendance and broadcast records.
If the WFP is ever to stand a chance of feeding the 1 billion people who do not have enough to eat, and to continue to deal with all the natural disasters and political uncertainty that strike countries around the world, then it needs more resources.
IRB and WFP – Rugby World Cup and the Tackle Hunger Partnership
The Tackle Hunger partnership was launched at Rugby World Cup 2003 in Australia and has since played a significant role in assisting the WFP to communicate its important work to the global community.
The unique partnership was the first humanitarian aid affiliation in the history of the tournament and an extensive campaign of awareness-raising activities was implemented in order to capture the attention of the 1.9 million spectators and the wider cumulative global television audience of 3.4 billion that an enthralling tournament attracted. In addition, October 24, 2003 was designated an official Tackle Hunger Day and was marked by a touch rugby match in Sydney, featuring Australian Rugby greats such as Mark Ella, Simon Poidevan and David Campese.
In Australia, Tackle Hunger fielded an all-star ambassador team composed of Rugby World Cup winning captains John Eales, Nick Farr-Jones, David Kirk and Francois Pienaar to educate the world through Rugby about the issues of hunger and the difficulties in getting food to those in need through no fault of their own. In his role as a key member of the Tackle Hunger team, former Australia captain Farr-Jones visited WFP projects in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2005, he toured the Banda Aceh province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra that was devastated by the Asian tsunami.
Building on the success of the Tackle Hunger partnership in Australia in 2003, RWC 2007 in France provided a perfect platform to raise awareness of the work of the WFP and to connect it with the growing number of corporate organisations that support the global Game. A combination of in-stadium visibility through advertising hoardings, programme editorials, adverts and videos were used to help raise awareness of the WFP’s work and the daily struggle the world’s hungry face. In addition to the 2.24 million paying spectators, the Tackle Hunger message was conveyed to a global cumulative TV audience of over 4 billion people across 238 countries.
The IRB itself staged a fundraising match at Twickenham in 2005 between teams of international players from the northern and southern hemispheres. It raised more than US$3 million, vital funds that were donated to WFP's relief and reconstruction work in areas hit by the Asian tsunami of December 2004.
Spreading the word
Tackle Hunger was a resounding success at RWC in 2003 and 2007, achieving its triple objectives of raising awareness of the WFP, drawing attention to the plight of the world's hungry and connecting the global Rugby community with the programme.
As a result, the IRB extended its relationship with the WFP as the IRB's first humanitarian aid partner, using the Tackle Hunger programme across the IRB's family of international tournaments at all levels of the Game.
High-profile tournaments including the popular record-breaking IRB Sevens World Series, RWC Sevens, the IRB Junior World Championship, IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy and Women's Rugby World Cup have been used as platforms to continue to spread the Tackle Hunger message across the world. In addition, the IRB's broadcast programmes Total Rugby TV and Total Rugby Radio, broadcast in over 120 countries worldwide, have highlighted the Tackle Hunger campaign.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset with the Webb Ellis Cup - Photo: USA Rugby