Emirates and Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) announced a sponsorship agreement for Rugby World Cup 2015 and 2019 which will be held in England and Japan respectively.
Emirates also extended its sponsorship of the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) match officials until the end of 2019, which includes for the first time in Rugby World Cup (RWC) history the rights to brand the shirts of match officials on the field of play during the tournament.
Since the inception of RWC in 1987, no brand has ever featured on the playing kits of players or match officials.
"Rugby is a core part of Emirates’ sports sponsorship portfolio. We’ve supported rugby around the world for more than 20 years, and we are glad to have helped connect hundreds of thousands of passionate rugby fans from around the globe through these events.
"Rugby is an international sport that reaches an international audience, many of whom are Emirates customers. The 2011 tournament in New Zealand was the most widely-broadcast Rugby World Cup ever, and we anticipate the next two Rugby World Cups will only be more spectacular.
"For Emirates, it was a natural decision to be the first Worldwide Partner of both the England and Japan tournaments, and as official airline we look forward to flying fans to experience the event for themselves," said Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline.
"We are excited to be renewing our long-standing and highly-successful partnership with Emirates. Emirates is a strong champion of rugby worldwide and the reappointment of a globally renowned brand and a world leader in the airline industry further underscores the enormous prestige of Rugby World Cup in the global sporting and business marketplaces," said Brett Gosper, IRB Chief Executive and Rugby World Cup Limited Managing Director.
"We look forward to building on our strong collaboration with Emirates to further enhance the promotion of rugby and the world's top referees as we build towards and beyond what promises to be an exceptional England 2015 tournament that will engage and inspire new fans and participants the length and breadth of the host nation and around the world," he added.
In terms of the agreement, Emirates will be an official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2015 and 2019, as well as the official airline.
The familiar ‘Fly Emirates’ logo will adorn the shirts of match officials, and Emirates will have its branding displayed around all stadiums in England and Japan where matches will be played during the six-week long tournaments.
The announcement of Emirates as a Rugby World Cup Worldwide Partner has also been welcomed by the Rugby World Cup 2015 and Rugby World Cup 2019 organising bodies.
Debbie Jevans, CEO of the Organising Committee for England 2015 added: "We are delighted to welcome Emirates as the official airline of Rugby World Cup, a company that has a longstanding partnership with the sport of rugby. We look forward to working closely with them in the lead up to Rugby World Cup 2015."
"Rugby World Cup 2019 is a first for rugby in Japan and Asia. We are excited that Emirates will be official airline of the tournament. Rugby World Cup will contribute greatly to further develop and grow rugby in Japan, and with so many visitors expected it will also deliver significant tourism and trade benefits," said Kojo Tokumasu, Japan 2019 General Manager.
RWC 2015 kicks off on September 18 at Twickenham Stadium in London; with hosts England taking on a yet-to-be decided qualifying national team from the Oceana 1 region.
So far 13 countries have qualified for the tournament, with the remaining seven teams to make up the final 20 to be decided through qualifying matches over the coming months.
Emirates is well positioned to connect fans to the host countries. It currently offers over 100 flights per week into the UK, of which 42 are serviced by its flagship A380 aircraft, while serving Japan with 21 weekly flights, once daily each to Haneda and Narita in Tokyo, and Osaka.
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