Emirates Airline is to be the Principal Partner of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009, which will make history by being staged in Dubai for the first time.The 24-team Men’s tournament and 16-team Women’s tournament, being hosted by the Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union, will take place on March 5 to 7, 2009 at Emirates’ new state-of-the-art rugby complex, currently being constructed off the Al Ain Road close to Dubailand. The event will break new ground by being the first ever Rugby World Cup to incorporate both a men’s and a women’s competition.
The agreement to become Principal Partner at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009, sees Emirates Airline extend its rugby sponsorship portfolio even further, underlining the company’s credentials as one of the sport’s premier supporters.
Gary Chapman, President Group Services and Dnata, Emirates Group, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 and are eagerly looking forward to next year’s kick-off. Emirates has a proud record of sponsoring international sevens rugby which stretches back to 1988, and our involvement with Rugby World Cup Sevens enables us to continue supporting the global development of the sport and the growth of the women’s game.
“We expect that TV audiences around the world in excess of 500 million people will tune into the event and we are preparing for crowds of more than 120,000 to pack the new stadium over the three days of the event. We will put on a show to remember.”
Dubai-based Emirates Airline has become synonymous with rugby thanks to a range of sponsorship agreements. It was Official Airline of Rugby World Cup 2007 in France and sponsors the International Rugby Board referees and match officials. The IRB’s International Rugby Yearbook is supported by Emirates, while the award-winning airline also backs the IRB’s star-studded annual awards ceremony.
Emirates also sponsors four tournaments in the annual IRB Sevens World Series: the traditional opening leg in Dubai, South Africa, London and series finale in Edinburgh, and the company is shirt sponsors of the England and Samoa sevens teams, as well as of the Australia-based Emirates Western Force Super 14 squad.
The staging of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009, follows on from the highly successful Emirates Airline-sponsored IRB Under-19 World Championship which was held in Dubai and Sharjah in 2006.
Chapman added: “We feel that rugby and Emirates have been good for each other. It is a sport that fits our brand very well thanks to the audiences it attracts, and we are very proud of what has been achieved in recent years.”
The 24 men’s teams taking part in Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 will be attempting to win the Melrose Cup. The competition first took place in Scotland in 1993, before moving to Hong Kong in 1997, Argentina in 2001 and Hong Kong again in 2005 where Fiji emerged victorious.
The eight quarter-finalists from 2005 - Fiji plus New Zealand, England, Australia, France, Scotland, Argentina and South Africa as well as the host union, the Arabian Gulf - qualify automatically for Dubai 2009. The 15 remaining men’s places will come from qualifying tournaments throughout 2008 in six worldwide regions.
These six regions - Africa, North America & West Indies, South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania - will also stage qualifying tournaments to find the 16 women’s teams that will compete to be the first ever Women’s World Champions in the Rugby World Cup Sevens, Dubai 2009.
As well as being enthusiastic supporters of rugby, Emirates Airline has an impressive sports sponsorship portfolio which also includes soccer, golf, horse racing, cricket, tennis, yacht racing, power boating and Aussie Rules Football.