Emirates has carried the Webb Ellis Cup in Tokyo ahead of the Rugby World Cup.
The silver-gilt trophy, presented since the inaugural Rugby World Cup tournament in 1987, was transported on Emirates flight EK318 from Dubai to Tokyo, arriving to a champion’s welcome.
The Dubai-based airline is the worldwide partner of the event.
On touchdown in the host country of Japan, former World Rugby players of the year, Bryan Habana and Shane Williams, stepped out of the Emirates A380 aircraft to present the coveted trophy to Japan’s organising committee.
The handover takes place just prior to the 100-day countdown to kick-off of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan on September 20th.
Boutros Boutros, Emirates divisional senior vice president, corporate communications, marketing and brand, said: “Rugby World Cup is one of the world’s greatest major sporting events and more than 1.8 million fans are expected to attend the tournament in Japan over a six-week period, with over one third comprised of international fans - the largest ever number in the tournament’s history.
“With such a global audience, we see Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan as a great platform to share the love for rugby and bring communities together.”
To help ensure that jet-setting rugby fans do not miss any of the Rugby World Cup action, Emirates will be screening the competition’s matches live in the air on its dedicated in-flight sports channel, Sport 24, available on the airline’s award-winning in-flight entertainment system, ice.
World Rugby chief executive, Brett Gosper, added: “It is always a special moment when the famous Webb Ellis Cup arrives in the host country ahead of a Rugby World Cup, and today marks a historic moment for rugby as for the first time the tournament will take place in Asia.
“We thank worldwide partner of Rugby World Cup 2019, Emirates, for ensuring the smooth arrival of this precious piece of silverware into Tokyo.”