Ron Rutland is cycling 20 093 km to deliver a whistle to start the Rugby World Cup


Ron Rutland and James Owens are embarking on a remarkable quest: cycling 20,093 km across Europe and Asia – from London to Tokyo – and arriving just in time for Rugby World Cup 2019™. This extreme expedition will take them through 27 countries over 231 days.

They will do so with a commemorative whistle in his bag bearing the engraving: “Japan v Russia, September 20 2019”. Their task is to deliver the whistle to Tokyo, where it will be used by the referee to start the opening game of the World Cup.

Why are they doing it? To raise money and awareness for ChildFund Pass It Back, the official charity of Rugby World Cup 2019™ and the tournament’s Official Logistics Partner DHL, and to promote the game of rugby.

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Rutland and James Owens will cycle more than 12,000 miles through 27 countries in 231 days.

Race to RWC started on February 2, 2019. Please support Ron, James and ChildFund Pass It Back by making a donation or even joining the duo for part of their adventure. Follow this page for regular updates, photos and messages from Ron and James as they pedal their way to Rugby World Cup 2019™.

Who is this crazy South African guy?

“I have lots of people who tell me straight up I’m crazy and others who say I’m not sensible, but if I’m on my deathbed and the worst people can say about me is I wasn’t sensible then I think I’d be all right with that,” laughs the South African, who is using the trip to raise money for Pass it Back, the tournament’s official charity, and Laureus.

In 2013, Ron was bored of life as a banker – “to be honest, I’d sold myself short for the first 35 years of my life” – so sold all his possessions and cycled through every country in Africa en route to the World Cup

Ron and James

“By the end of this trip, I will have spent more time in my forties living in a tent than not,” chuckles Rutland. “My middle-aged mates shake their heads at me as they drive their kids to school and build their futures. I have chosen a different route. 

“The simplicity of life on a bicycle, wondering where you’ll find food and water, and where you are going to sleep that night, allows you to focus.

“What I’ve done has given me a confidence that anything is possible,” he says. “I mean, here I am – the most ordinary, fat ex-prop in the world and I’m jumping on a bicycle to go to Japan.



DHL has supported Ron’s adventures from day one. As he often says, without the company’s support in Africa, he’d probably have been six months late for the kick-off of Rugby World Cup 2015!

DHL is proud to partner with ChildFund Pass It Back and excited to support Ron and James throughout their journey.

Along the way, the duo will have the opportunity to visit DHL offices and meet the people who power our organization. We’re looking look forward to welcoming both Ron and James into our family.

DHL is the leading global brand in the logistics industry. DHL’s family of 360,000 people in over 220 countries and territories offer an unrivalled portfolio of logistics services ranging from national and international deliveries, international express, road, air and ocean transport to industrial supply chain management. Find out more at

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