The World Rugby Classic Once Again comes to Bermuda in 2017.
One has to wonder “Why Bermuda?” Well it has to be for Bermuda Rugby – The Bermuda World Rugby Classic.
3,000 plus miles from the coast of England, 650 miles from the United States, a dot of some 22 sq.miles in the Atlantic, the tip of an undersea mountain range…how could this small group of Islands become an attraction for so many international rugby players out of the top drawer of the game?
Hardly a bastion of rugby, or so you would think! The World Rugby Classic is a Tournament like no other.
Well to answer that you have to cast your mind back to rugby in the early 1970’s when the only opportunity for an international rugby player to travel to “exotic” places was as part of the national team or be selected for the Lions tours to Australia, New Zealand or South Africa.
Bermuda changed that thinking!
From the early seventies Bermuda has played host to many of the world’s most famous international players and it all started with the Easter Classic which involved just one match on Easter Sunday: the Bermuda-Irish against Bermuda.
International players, augmenting the local players, would fly in on a Thursday, enjoy a couple of days of Bermuda’s famous hospitality, play the game on the Sunday and then continue with the hospitality until they flew out on Tuesday, somewhat bleary-eyed but with some great memories.
Easter Sunday at the Classic quickly became a Bermuda tradition with a champagne brunch and some wonderful rugby. It was the start of Corporate Hospitality in Bermuda.
At that time of the year the Barbarians Tour to Wales was the only other rugby event over Easter and as an England captain was quoted as saying; “Which would you prefer, three tough games in Wales or a one match tour to Bermuda? Not a difficult choice?”
And at one point in time eight of the most capped players in the world had played in the Easter Classic, an annual event which lasted 21 years.
Many long-lasting friendships were built over the years and in 1988 the first World Rugby Classic, reaching out to many of those players, was started.
And so Bermuda quickly became the meeting place for many players from all around the world, who had played against each other over the years and were now given the opportunity to renew old friendships and make new ones.
And so they came and will continue to do so.
Twenty-one Easter Classics and twenty-five World Rugby Classics attracting, over the years, some of the greatest names in the sport to a little island in the Atlantic.