The world will return to Australia next year, with Qantas and British Airways confirmed as the Official Airlines of Rugby World Cup 2003.
With the planet`s third biggest sporting event exactly one year away, the sponsorship announcement was marked by the activation of a giant digital countdown clock by Australian rugby greats John Eales and David Campese.
Qantas Executive General Manager Sales and Marketing John Borghetti said Qantas and British Airways were extremely proud to have been selected as the Rugby World Cup`s official airlines.
“After the Soccer World Cup and Summer Olympics, the Rugby World Cup is the third biggest sporting event in the world and certainly the biggest to be staged in Australia since the Sydney 2000 Games,” he said.
“Qantas is a major supporter of Australian sporting, community and cultural organisations, and our involvement with Rugby World Cup 2003 takes this support to another level. In fact, it will be our biggest sponsorship commitment ever.
“Three years after the Sydney Olympics, we are looking forward to the challenge of bringing the world back to Australia.”
British Airways Area General Manager Asia Pacific Jenny Lourey said rugby is a truly international game which is close to the hearts of many people across the world.
“It is therefore only appropriate that two of the world`s great airlines should join forces to fly approximately 1,000 players and officials and tens of thousands of rugby fans into Australia for the 48 game, six week event,” she said.
To mark this important day for Rugby World Cup 2003, a special clock was activated which will count down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the event`s kick-off, when Australia plays Argentina at Stadium Australia on the evening of 10 October 2003.
“It is more than appropriate that our countdown clock should have been activated by two Australian rugby greats - John Eales who lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for Australia in Cardiff in 1999 and David Campese who played in our first World Cup winning team in 1991,” Mr Borghetti said.
“Countdown clocks will be located in Qantas domestic terminals in cities which will host Rugby World Cup games to provide a constant reminder that this major international event is rapidly approaching.”
Rugby World Cup 2003 has also given the two airlines responsibility for the appointment of a worldwide network of Official Travel Agents who will manage the sale of event and air tickets in international markets.
The Australian Rugby Union`s domestic ticket program is under way, with the public ticket offer commencing on 20 October.
Details of the agents in each overseas market are currently being finalised.