NEARLY 2,000 children turned out to welcome the Rugby League World Cup to Chester as part of its nationwide tour.
Ahead of the this year’s Rugby League World Cup which is taking place in England and Wales in October and November, the trophy’s tour stopped off at The Cheshire County Sports Club and at Upton-by-Chester High School.
Pupils were able to have photographs taken with the silver-plated trophy and meet international stars Tyrone McCarthy, who plays for Ireland, and Wales centre Christiaan Roets.
Players from rugby league club Chester Gladiators also took the opportunity to get their hands on the trophy.
Chester Gladiators player Chris Young said: “It was great to be able to have the trophy here in Chester and to see it up close.
“I’m looking forward to getting along to a few games when the tournament kicks off.”
The 61 centimetre high trophy has a fascinating and illustrious past.
It was commissioned by Paul Barrière, a former French Resistance fighter, for the inaugural 1954 Rugby League World Cup.
The trophy was presented to the winning nation at the next four tournaments before it was stolen from the Midland Hotel in Bradford, six days before the 1970 final.
Father-of-four Stephen Uttley discovered the trophy, which had originally cost eight million French francs to make and is currently valued at £500,000, among rubbish dumped in a ditch near a rugby club 20 years later.
It was brought back into use for the 2000 tournament and was presented to the victorious Australian team.
Tournament director Nigel Wood said: “This magnificent trophy deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.
“As part of our promotional plans for the tournament, the trophy will travel around the UK right up to the first game at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on October 26, 2013.”
The 14-team tournament, which is being jointly hosted by England and Wales, will culminate in the final at Old Trafford on November 30.
Rugby league fans in Chester will have the chance to attend live matches with reigning champions New Zealand facing Samoa at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington, and Wales taking on the USA at The Racecourse in Wrexham.
Tickets for all matches are now on sale and can be bought online at www.rlwc2013.com