Tue, Aug 13, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Rugby duo riding to Tokyo with whistle for charity


Oh, and a rugby ball that they bring out wherever they go in a bid to teach rugby to locals in places like Bulgaria, India, Vietnam and Laos, where the sport remains for the most part unknown.

“That’s been a really good ice-breaker, especially with children,” said Owens, 28, whose work with ChildFund has helped bring rugby training and lifeskills programs to remote corners of Southeast Asia.

They have also learned a lot about each other. One is a self-described “obsessive” planner (Rutland), the other less so. One is a morning person (Rutland again), the other not so much.

That planning has served them well. They have stayed mostly on schedule cycling though the European winter, along to Central and Southeast Asia, and on Sunday entered China from Vietnam. They are to eventually wheel their way to Japan to watch the tournament, and despite a few frictions over who they want to see crowned — Rutland is rooting for South Africa, Owens for England — they both agree that they would like to see Japan go far.

“It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the game in Asia,” Rutland said.

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