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Legendary Rugby Ambassadors, Shane Williams (second from left) and Bryan Habana (second from right) journeyed to Japan to deliver the prestigious trophy to World Rugby and Japan Rugby 2019, represented by Brett Gosper - CEO, World Rugby (third from right) and Akira Shimazu - CEO of Rugby World Cup 2019 Organizing Committee (third from left)

Former Springbok Bryan Habana Hands over the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan

JOHANNESBURG, 11 June 2019 Emirates, Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019 (RWC 2019), today announced the arrival of the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan’s busy capital. 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 yesterday to a champion’s welcome. 

On touchdown in the host country of Japan, former RWC Players of the Year, South Africa’s own Bryan Habana and Shane Williams, stepped out of the Emirates Rugby World Cup 2019 Airbus A380 to present the coveted trophy to Japan’s organising committee. The handover takes place just before the 100-day countdown that will kick-off the RWC 2019 in Japan on 20 September 2019. 

As a proud connector of people and their passions, Emirates has a rich heritage in sport and an extensive portfolio of top-class rugby sponsorships, including the Johannesburg-based Emirates Lions. The airline’s longstanding association with World Rugby began when it first featured at the RWC 2007 in France as a Tournament Sponsor, before becoming an official Worldwide Partner for the RWC 2011 in New Zealand.

Emirates later became the first Worldwide Partner to sign an agreement for both the RWC 2015 in England and 2019 in Japan. Furthermore, Emirates’ history of supporting global rugby events spans more than 20 years, bringing people and cultures together through a shared love for the game.

As the official airline of the prestigious competition, Emirates recently unveiled RWC 2019 livery on the world’s largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380. The special livery celebrates the upcoming tournament and currently flies direct from Dubai to Osaka, Tokyo Haneda and Tokyo Narita.

Watch the reveal of Emirates’ new ‘Rugby World Cup 2019’ A380:

To ensure that jet-setting rugby fans don’t miss any of the action, Emirates will be screening the RWC 2019 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. Emirates currently has 175 aircraft equipped with Live TV, including all Boeing 777 aircraft. Economy Class customers can enjoy the industry’s largest in-seat screens at 13.3 inches, while Business Class and First Class travellers can experience 23 inches and 32 inches of viewing pleasure respectively.

Emirates will also be screening the matches live on the 55-inch screen at the iconic onboard lounge on select A380 aircraft. Those travelling in First and Business Class can join other rugby enthusiasts at 40,000 feet, as they cheer on their favourite teams while enjoying a unique selection of spirits or cocktails. What’s more, is fans can stay connected to tournament news and highlights, with the airline offering passengers up to free 20MB of Wi-Fi data on its aircraft. 

World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper expressed his thoughts at the handover event: “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.”

“We have already seen the inspirational impact this iconic trophy has had on its travels across the globe, especially in emerging rugby nations such as India and Brazil, and we look forward to sharing it with all corners of Japan ahead before arriving at Tokyo Stadium for the kick off of Rugby World Cup 2019 on 20 September,” concluded Gosper.

About Emirates: Emirates is the world’s largest international airline with a global network of 157 destinations in 85 countries/territories across six continents. Emirates operates 270 modern aircraft and is the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 family of aircraft of which one 777-300 Classic has been phased out. The airline’s luxurious amenities, regionally-inspired gourmet cuisine, award-winning inflight entertainment system – ice – and unmatched hospitality provided by its iconic multilingual Cabin. The crew from over 135 nationalities have made Emirates one of the world’s most recognised airline brands. In South Africa, two of the four daily Emirates flights to Johannesburg are served by the iconic Airbus A380, to cater to the growing demand for the airline’s successful, customer-orientated experience. Emirates also operates two daily flights to Cape Town and a daily flight to Durban.

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