The journey to Rugby World Cup 2019 is full of emotions and milestones. 200 staff members in Asia Pacific marked one of them last weekend as they participated in a unique caritive touch rugby tournament.

26 squads from all offices across the region met in Hong Kong on 24-25 August. Although most players were totally new to the sport, they all signed up for a charitable adventure: raising funds for the Societe Generale Rugby Spirit Festival, a cultural exchange programme organized in partnership with ChildFund, World Rugby’s charity partner for Rugby World Cup 2019. A cause the players took to heart and for which they collectively raised over 163,000 EUR.

Making a difference in a child’s life

“The challenge the teams took on is a testimony of the dedication and commitment of SG staff. Their efforts will ensure that over 100 kids – who for many of them never left their country, nor even have a passport – will travel to Japan for the first time and have the unique opportunity to attend a Rugby World Cup game.” shared Hikaru Ogata, CEO Asia Pacific.

The Festival happening from 24 to 26 October will allow underprivileged kids from SG’s supported charities to experience the “once in a lifetime” Rugby World Cup through educational workshops, a tag rugby tournament and the first semi-final in Yokohama.

Rugby and team spirit at their highest

The objective of the tournament being set, it was down to the teams to make a difference. As a reminder, teams were also able to win their place in the stands for the first semi-final of Rugby World Cup 2019 on 26 October in Yokohama, Japan.

After a pool stage in intense heat on Saturday, and a knock-out stage in heavy showers on Sunday, there was only one spot for the tournament winner, fiercely won by the Australian squad ‘SocGeneration’.

 “We had some practice sessions before we left for Hong Kong as some team members had never played before. Excellent teamwork, strategy and focus were some of the keys to our success. We came up against some very talented opposition during the course of the tournament. We’ve learnt how to work together and perform as a team which gives us renewed confidence for how we can succeed as a team back in the workplace. One of our team members who had never played touch rugby before has announced that rugby is now her favourite sport which underlines just what a positive overall experience it was.” shared SocGeneration.  

Singapore squad ‘Alamak’ made also a difference: awarded “Best Fundraising Team”, they raised over 12,000 EUR until the last minutes of the teams’ fundraising cut off.

“From the start, we decided to be creative and use all medias, especially social media. We shot videos, took pictures, posted on our Facebook fans page. It was very tough to keep the pace with other teams who did a fantastic fundraising drive. The entire Singapore office gathered during a “food fair day” and raised a huge amount that was shared between both Singapore touch rugby teams. All in, it was a great adventure, both on and before the tournament. We are particularly proud to help unprivileged kids to experience what rugby can bring them… not just for a game, not only for Rugby World Cup but for life!” shared Alamak.

Team spirit being the essence of rugby and in SG’s DNA, a final award for the “Best Team Spirit” was received at the end of the tournament by Hong Kong team ‘All Black Swans’. The squad was unanimously recognized for their remarkable group’s presence, which came from their unerring positivity before and during the tournament and all the creative assets they came up with to display their team’s unity: from their logo, outfit, motivational song and now famous “haka”.

“The rugby tournament goes beyond the event weekend. It was about preparation, courage, creativity, exchanges, understanding, generosity and wonderful encounters! It was such a nice journey, coming from the idea to create a team with a common ambition to raise as much as fund as possible with the willingness to make the difference if not by our game, at least by our energy and ambition. On Sunday, it felt like after a wedding – lots of people, emotion, fun and some stress … and then a feeling of completion and happiness that this is finally over ... but some emptiness too!” shared the All Black Swans.

To summarise, there was something special about this tournament. It was not only the meaningful cause, but also the connection between the teams and the positivity felt over the 2-day competition. Rugby legends Matt Giteau (AUS), Nick Hewson (HKG) and Thomas Castaignede (FR) were coaching the teams all along, sharing useful tips and positive vibes. The dinner on the first day was a well-deserved break and the occasion for all to network and meet new colleagues. And the extreme weather did not discourage a single squad: they all shined for their team spirit as they played matches with fair play. Congratulations to all participants.

Find the event video on Youtube

Stay tuned for more news on the Rugby Spirit Festival, the teams going to Yokohama and Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan!

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