Even though a ball is yet to be kicked or try scored at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022, signs are that the showpiece tournament will leave a lasting legacy in South Africa and beyond.
Last month, it was announced that international development agency ChildFund had been appointed as the first ever principal charity partner of RWC Sevens.
More than £2 million was pledged by rugby fans as a result of the partnership with RWC 2019, while more than 55,000 children from around the world have been given an opportunity to play the game.
Funds raised through the RWC Sevens 2022 partnership will be used to support ChildFund Rugby initiatives across Africa, including those linked to rugby’s values and gender equality.
As outlined in January, when World Rugby launched its Environmental Sustainability Plan 2030, the governing body has a duty to take credible steps to combat climate change.
It is hoped that RWC Sevens 2022 will be South Africa’s most environmentally responsible rugby event to date, and plastic waste generated during the tournament will be used to build affordable housing.
South Africa Rugby used the test match between the Springboks and Wales earlier this year as a pilot project, in which plastic waste – including some otherwise regarded as non-recyclable – was collected and converted into pellets to go into the manufacture of bricks.
Members of the Blitzboks and Springboks Women’s Sevens squads swapped their rugby kit for hard hats last week as they conducted a site visit at the Breaking New Ground Homes project, which uses the innovative bricks to build houses.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “It is fantastic to see recommendations from World Rugby’s Environmental Sustainability Plan 2030 being put in to practice by South Africa’s men’s and women’s sevens players in this innovative project to help build affordable homes using plastic.
“The players actions will no doubt inspire many others to take notice and be a force for good, helping to protect the planet for future generations to continue to enjoy playing rugby in a healthy environment.”
Alongside complementary efforts to reduce single use plastics and packaging, fans attending Rugby World Cup Sevens will see green plastic rubbish bags – labelled ‘the bag that builds’ – all around DHL Stadium for the collection of all plastic waste.
A special plant converts the waste into an “eco-aggregate”, called RESIN8. The manufactured RESIN8 is then incorporated into the mix design for the casting of conventional concrete blocks – disposing of 100 per cent of the plastic waste and reducing the need for conventional quarried materials by up to 20 per cent.
Each house requires 1,200 bricks per unit; the Springbok test match produced 398 bags which resulted in 875kg of plastic waste, producing 3,500 bricks (or almost three houses).
“This is a really exciting project that we successfully trialled in July and to see that plastic waste rise up housing is tremendously exciting,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“Everyone has a responsibility to look after the natural environment for future generations and rugby is not blind to its responsibility. Please look out for the green collection bags if you are attending the tournament, every item that is deposited is potentially one less piece of plastic that will end up in landfill or even in our oceans.”
Other initiatives that will be rolled out as part of RWC Sevens 2022 include free fan travel via the MyCity bus network and park-and-ride systems, use of renewable energy from wind farms, rainwater harvesting and kit collection for post-tournament distribution.
A Get into Sevens programme will also be rolled out as the host union leverages the showcase event to deliver a growth in rugby participation throughout the region.
Whether heading to DHL Stadium to be a part of the action or joining in remotely, fans can get involved and show their support by estimating their own carbon footprint and take steps to reduce it using the United Nations carbon footprint calculator.
For more on World Rugby’s sustainability activities, visit www.world.rugby/sustainability