updated 9/9/2010 7:18:20 AM ET 2010-09-09T11:18:20

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Sept. 9, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today the International Rugby Board (IRB) and Heineken launch the Rugby World Cup Tour presented by Heineken. The Tour marks the countdown to the Rugby World Cup (RWC) tournament, which kicks off in 365 days in New Zealand.

A photo accompanying this release is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=7979

The Webb Ellis Cup begins its journey from Eden Park stadium in Auckland, New Zealand in the presence of Rugby legend Taine Randell, former captain of New Zealand's national rugby team, Bernard Lapasset, IRB Chairman, and Hans Erik Tuijt, Heineken International.

Taine Randell, "Holding the Cup is every rugby fan's dream. I am pleased that Heineken will take the Cup on their Tour around the world, and I'm very excited that, as the official Ambassador of the Tour in New Zealand, I will be joining the Cup on its Tour here!"

Bernard Lapasset stated, "It's my pleasure to hand our long-term partner Heineken the prestigious Webb Ellis Cup to take it on the first ever worldwide tour for the next 12 months. I am sure Heineken will create excitement amongst rugby fans on all continents, enabling them to get up close and personal to the Cup. New Zealand hosted the first RWC in 1987 and it is ready to welcome the world once more for RWC 2011!"

Heineken's Hans Erik Tuijt said, "We will be taking the Cup around the globe, travelling from New Zealand to Ireland and from Argentina to South Africa. Through the Tour we aim to encourage more people than ever to follow the event when it starts in September 2011."

The Webb Ellis Cup is awarded to the winning nation at each tournament. New Zealand was first to hold the cup in 1987. Australia won twice (1991 and 1999), as did South Africa (1995 and 2007) and England once (2003).

The Cup commences its tour on 24th September. For more information please visit the special RWC Tour section on the Heineken Facebook page, to be launched on 15th September 2010.

Video available from FTP:

ftp://rwcheineken:H31nrWc@ftp.world-television.com

Username: rwcheineken

Password: H31nrWc

About Rugby World Cup 2011

The RWC 2011 will be the seventh RWC since its first edition in 1987. Teams representing 20 nations will compete in 48 matches across several host cities in New Zealand from 9 September to 23 October 2011. The final match will be held at Auckland's historic Eden Park.

About Heineken

Sold in almost every country in the world, Heineken is the world's leading premium beer brand and New Zealand's number one premium European lager. Heineken has been the official beer of the 1995, 2003, 2007 and now 2011 and 2015 RWC tournaments. A significant percentage of Heineken's global volume is consumed in the major rugby playing nations. Heineken has been the title sponsor of The Heineken Cup  – Europe's premier club championship – since 1995 and has been involved in the International IRB Rugby 7's tournament.

The photo is also available at Newscom, www.newscom.com , and via AP PhotoExpress

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