Over 4,000 members of The Pack, the 6,000 volunteers that will help welcome the world to England and Cardiff during Rugby World Cup 2015, joined in Milton Keynes over the weekend...
Those in attendance spent the day learning more about their roles in The Pack, the tournament, and what makes a Rugby World Cup special from some rugby greats including Bill Beaumont, Jason Leonard, Lawrence Dallaglio, Serge Betsen and Shane Williams.
Two Rugby World Cup winners, Will Greenwood and Maggie Alphonsi, also joined the day and unveiled the volunteer uniform alongside members of The Pack. The design, which reflects the Rugby World Cup 2015 colour palette, will ensure that members of The Pack will stand out from the crowd on matchdays and become recognisable Tournament figures to fans and players alike.
A special performance of Jerusalem from English soprano Laura Wright, an exhibition space with interactive stations showcasing each of the Rugby World Cup 2015 cities and venues, and the presence of the Webb Ellis Cup for members of The Pack to take photos, were also part of the day's line up.
The 6,000 members of The Pack were selected following a full recruitment programme. Over 20,000 applications were received with 10,000 people going through the interactive 'Try-Outs' selection events in late 2014. The Pack features a diverse range of volunteers, with a number of nationalities and foreign language speakers, ages ranging between 18 and 86, and a blend of those involved in the game and new to rugby.
Roles within The Pack will largely be based in spectator services and transport support, with the volunteers covering the full event footprint to ensure a warm welcome and on-hand support throughout match days. Further specialised roles in catering, freight and logistics, accreditation, press operations, tournament guests and protocol and workforce operations will also be fulfilled.
Stephen Brown, England Rugby 2015 Managing Director, said: "It was fantastic to see such enthusiasm and excitement from members of The Pack during the Kick Off in stadiummk. Our volunteers are giving their time and skill to help make the tournament the best possible experience for fans, players and all our stakeholders. We are delighted to welcome them to the Rugby World Cup 2015 family and thank them for their commitment to Rugby World Cup 2015.
"The Pack will be the faces of the tournament and we are pleased that of our 6,000 volunteers we have a real range of individuals with multiple nationalities, ages spanning 18-86, and a mix of those from rugby and new to the game. This is part of our vision for creating a legacy beyond 2015 and, working with the RFU, we hope that many members of The Pack will remain in rugby and volunteering long after the tournament.”
Former Wales International and British and Irish Lion, Shane Williams, said: "Rugby World Cups are very special for all involved and volunteers make the difference between a good matchday experience and a great one. With 125 days to go you can already feel the buzz and excitement and it was fantastic to have the opportunity to meet with members of The Pack today in stadiummk. Volunteers are so vital in rugby and I know that in my own career many volunteers have helped me right from the start of my career at junior club level up to playing at a Rugby World Cup. It was a really enjoyable day and I thank all the volunteers who are helping to put on what promises to be one of the best ever Rugby World Cups.”