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Written Statement - Celebrating the Rugby World Cup 2015 in Wales

Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism

Everyone is looking forward to the forthcoming Rugby World Cup in September 2015 when Wales will be hosting 8 matches at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. I am delighted to announce a partnership between the Welsh Government, the Welsh Rugby Union and Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales to deliver an innovative programme to celebrate the event in Wales.

Rugby is part of our cultural identity in Wales, beyond our proud sporting record on the pitch. Many of our greatest players began in their local clubs which represent the strength of community ties and support for young people. I now intend to bring the key elements of my portfolio together to acknowledge this heritage through three developments, leaving a lasting digital legacy.

I recently joined the Chair and CEO of the WRU in launching a bilingual creative writing competition for children, ‘Rugby Stories’. Children from Adamsdown Primary School helped us unveil the challenge to write poems, stories and digital stories about rugby. The competition will be judged by a panel and the winners announced in September. Creative writing has a tremendous power to develop literacy and digital literacy, letting the imagination grow and encouraging children and young people to learn more about the world around them. Our libraries, museums and archives services across Wales will be putting on activities to encourage children and young people between 7 and 16 to get involved, and I look forward to seeing a fantastic range of experiences, whether about playing, watching or expressing the importance of rugby in their lives. More information is available at www.rugbystories.wales.

The importance of rugby to Wales’ heritage is undisputed and an exciting new exhibition, ‘Kick offs and Keep-sakes’ will be held at the National Museum in Cardiff, opening on 8 September, four days before Wales’ first game in the Rugby World Cup. Displaying many items never before seen in public, the exhibition will use a range of artefacts and memorabilia from the WRU’s archives and other collections to explore the national fascination with rugby and Welsh rugby’s relationship with other rugby nations. This will be an opportunity to promote our rich sporting heritage to rugby fans from all over the world as they visit Cardiff for the World Cup.

I know that several people have expressed a concern that important rugby memorabilia held by local rugby clubs is in danger of being lost before being recorded. I am delighted to announce that the People’s Collection Wales will be working with the WRU to support volunteers to document and digitise items in local clubs. I am committed to establishing a lasting digital legacy of our national game which will continue to record its impact on life in Wales after this, and future, Rugby World Cups.