‘Audacious Run’ from Rugby School to Paris launches major UK Government campaign

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Photo credit: UK Gov 2023. Source: Cabinet Office and The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP

To mark 200 years since a UK schoolboy broke convention and invented the game of rugby, the UK’s enduring legacy of audacious creativity and innovation will be celebrated in the build-up to the 2023 Rugby World Cup with a run from Rugby School to Paris.

The legend of William Webb Ellis catching a football and running with it dates back to a game at Rugby School in 1823 and is credited with creating the game of rugby.

To mark the anniversary, ultramarathon runner Jake Barraclough, 26, will evoke the spirit of Webb Ellis and undertake the gruelling 281 mile run from Rugby School to Paris in time for the opening of the Rugby World Cup.

Jake said:

I’m thrilled to be taking on such an epic challenge while at the same time having this unique opportunity to promote the UK. I know I will have to channel Webb Ellis’s audacious spirit when the going gets tough on the route, and I’ll be looking forward to a glass of English sparkling wine when I finally arrive in Paris.

The series of ultramarathons will mark the launch of a major new campaign in France from the UK government’s GREAT Britain & Northern Ireland programme, showcasing the UK’s audacious spirit and promoting the best of the UK to prospective tourists, students and business investors over the next twelve months.

The campaign will demonstrate the UK has always been the home of creators, trend-setters and innovators. From fashion icon Vivienne Westwood and music legend David Bowie, to modern day superstar Harry Styles, the UK continues to offer a fresh perspective.

Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden, said:

Webb Ellis’s story is one of breaking convention, there are few tales so brilliant and so uniquely British.

And 200 years on, seeing Jake run with a ball for 281 miles will bring the spirit of the UK to life in a very real way. It’s the perfect showcase of Britain’s audacious spirit

The ‘Audacious Run’ started at Rugby School on Saturday 26 August and is due to finish in Paris on Tuesday 5 September, just ahead of the start of the Rugby World Cup.

During the run, Jake will pass through towns and cities, meeting audacious individuals and organisations along the way, before taking the ferry from Newhaven to France.

On his approach to Paris, he will be joined by a number of stars of the game to run the final mile together.

Following The Audacious Run, the GREAT campaign will create a series of ‘pop-up’ experiences in Marseilles, Bordeaux and Lille, which are designed to drive economic growth across the UK by encouraging the French  to visit, study and do business with the UK.

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