World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper hopes the 2019 World Cup in Japan will be a game-changer for the sport globally but also believes it can help transform lives across Asia.
Marking 200 days to go until the tournament kicks off, World Rugby and ChildFund, the main charity partner for the event, have confirmed that a record US$2 million has been pledged to ChildFund Pass It Back.
ChildFund aims to instil values associated with rugbyand the programme will teach more than 25,000 children -- half of them girls -- leadership and conflict resolution.
"Rugby is a sport that embraces different shapes and sizes and therefore that spirit of solidarity feeds into such a programme," Gosper told AFP.
"Part of any major sports programme is what will be an uptick in the area," he said. "We hope the people involved will pass on the message to the village and that it resonates with those who have not been part of it."
And Gosper believes the message it conveys will have a long-lasting impact.
"The charity link-up was ideal as it is geographically aligned," he said.
"The benefits of the collaboration are enormous as it is a truly transformational and tangible legacy for the sport, but also society in Asia, which is one of the reasons we awarded the Rugby World Cup to Japan."
Japan's tsunami on March 11, 2011, left about 18,500 people dead or missing and one of the World Cup venues, Kamaishi, was hard-hit.
Australian Test star Scott Fardy remained along with a couple of Tongan players and a New Zealand teammate to help with the clean-up operation in Kamaishi, where they were playing at the time.