The men in black did their job in England last year to retain it, and yesterday the Rugby World Cup was doing its job on tour in the greater Whanganui region.

The holy grail of world rugby was on national duty as part of a recruitment drive in the regions to attract teenagers to the game.

Wanganui Rugby Football Union chief executive Bridget Belsham and community development officer Lesley McKenzie were on hand to accompany the trophy around the region, with helicopter pilot Dean Lithgow flying it to Ruapehu College, Taihape Area School and Rangitikei College before the trophy landed back in Whanganui to be admired by Wanganui Collegiate students.

It was also on display at Cooks Gardens yesterday during the annual Whanganui Secondary Schools Athletics Championships that hosted about 400 athletes.


McKenzie said there was a nationwide drop off in numbers playing the game between the school and club stages with teenage interests being swayed towards a raft of other recreational activities.

She said there were good turnouts at each of the colleges and interest in the glittering prize won back-to-back by the All Blacks was high. She said the cup was having an impact and making teens think rugby and what could be achieved through the game on.