Highland RFC welcomed the Webb Ellis Cup to Canal Park on Sunday, and minis coach Paul Schofield admits it was a momentous day in the history of the club.
The event was part of Land Rover Rugby’s contribution to the Trophy Tour of Scotland, where the iconic Webb Ellis Cup travelled across the county over five days in the back of the Rugby World Cup 2015 Defender, the bespoke vehicle designed by Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations department – complete with customised Trophy cabinet – that will transport rugby’s greatest prize around the UK & Ireland in the build up to the Tournament.
On Sunday the party arrived in Inverness, with former Scotland internationals Chris Paterson and Land Rover ambassador Kelly Brown on hand to pass on their knowledge to Highland’s youngsters.
And coach Schofield, whose sons Oli and Jake took part in a coaching session with Brown before grabbing a photo with Paterson, believes the festivities had a big impact on the kids involved.
“It’s been an absolutely brilliant day, one of the best,” said the 39-year-old, who himself was a part of the Highland side that played at Murrayfield in the 2005 BT Bowl Final.
“My two wee boys have been excited about it all week, and the Cup looked absolutely amazing in the back of that Land Rover – it was great to actually see it in the flesh.
“It has been really inspiring for the young ones to see Kelly and Chris, and they’ve all got a photo, a signature and a story to go with it.
“Kelly was down on his knee talking to the kids, playing around, and getting really involved in some of the warm-up games as well.
“They’ve really, really enjoyed it, and there are a lot of other clubs here as well that have taken the opportunity to come down. So it’s been a really good day of rugby.
“It’s a great time for Scottish Rugby at the moment, and with the Rugby World Cup coming up too we could be in really good nick. Events like this one really tie it all together.”
Land Rover are a Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2015 and – along with recruiting all 96 official mascots for Rugby World Cup 2015 as part of its We Deal In Real campaign – the Trophy Tour will travel through the UK and Ireland before arriving at Twickenham Stadium on 18 September ahead of the opening ceremony.
The 100-day journey will engage fans at over 100 grassroots and elite rugby clubs, and give them the opportunity to get a close-up view of the Webb Ellis Cup and build unforgettable memories as part of their own Rugby World Cup 2015 story.
And Paterson, still Scotland’s most-capped player and leading points scorer having played in four World Cups, hopes the tour could inspire young players across Scotland to pull on the dark blue jersey themselves one day.
“It’s absolutely brilliant and inspiring to see all the kids turning out,” said the 37-year-old.
“I’ve been with the trophy for the whole of the five-day Scottish leg, and everyone is just in awe of this fabulous Trophy – hopefully some of them will even be inspired to compete for Scotland one day.
“Kelly and I absolutely love being here to see all of them. I can still remember as a kid seeing the Trophy going around here before the Rugby World Cup in 1991, and what a big impact it had on me.
“We are counting down the days to Rugby World Cup 2015 and the excitement here is really building already.
“The Trophy carries so much stature, so for it to get up here, to Glasgow, Aberdeen, the Highlands and all the other places it has been is brilliant.”
Paul Schofield from Highland RFC was speaking on behalf of Land Rover at Highland RFC when Land Rover and the Rugby World Cup 2015 Defender brought the Webb Ellis Cup to the grassroots club, as part of the 100 Day Tour of the UK and Ireland. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal