10:20 AM

Emirates gives UAE rugby players a chance to experience flagbearer duties for a once in a lifetime opportunity at Rugby World Cup 2019™

The Emirates Flagbearers programme will see one Emirati boy and one Emirati girl leading out teams at Rugby World Cup 2019

Dubai, UAE, 29 September 2019: Cementing its commitment to support the development of rugby in the UAE, Emirates has presented two Emirati rugby youth players with the opportunity of a lifetime to lead out the teams competing in the bronze final on Friday 1 November in Tokyo Stadium during Rugby World Cup 2019. The initiative is part of the airline’s international flagbearer’s programme, which provides opportunities for young fans to lead out teams to the pitch and participate in the pre-kick-off anthem ceremonies across key matches in the quarter-finals, semi-finals the bronze final and the final throughout 12 host cities in Japan.

Saoud Al Kaabi and Marwa Abdelaziz Al Naqbi were unanimously selected by the UAE Rugby Federation board for their exemplary performance and commitment to the game of rugby. Al Kaabi is currently the only Emirati of his age-group that plays in the ‘U16 Al Ain Amblers’, an expatriate domestic-league team, where his dedication to training and overall attendance has seen him receive ‘Most Committed’ to rugby, as well as ‘Best Player of the Season’ commendations by his club - which has been applauded by the UAE Rugby Federation.

Al Naqbi represents the second tier of UAE’s female Emirati player. The 15 year-old plays with UAE Rugby’s all-Emirati ‘Al Maha’ U19 girls team, where she shows a strong commitment to her training as well as to her role within the team, which was highlighted by her coaches during the 2018/2019 season. Al Naqbi is actively involved in recruiting other girls, within her age-group, to train and try-out for the UAERF’s Al Maha team.

Boutros Boutros, Divisional Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Marketing & Brand said: “Emirates is committed to growing the game of rugby through grassroots support of local organisations, teams, events and players, ensuring the sport has a strong presence across all communities here in the UAE. We have been a longstanding partner through our support of the UAE Rugby Federation, and will continue to work with them to boost the ongoing development of the game. We are also proud of our RWC 2019 Emirates Flagbearers campaign, which is providing two Emirati rugby enthusiasts with an experience that will intensify their connection to the sport as they participate in rugby’s top international event.”

Qais Al Dhalai, Secretary General, UAE Rugby Federation said: “On behalf of our Chairman, and the Board, we extend our sincere gratitude to Emirates Airline for providing this opportunity to two very deserving young Emirati sportspeople. In this ‘Year of Tolerance’ we are exceptionally pleased to be in a position to recognise and reward a boy and girl who are making strides in our sport. These young players epitomise the values of our Emirati culture and our game, and are exceptional role-models for their peers having risen through our grass-roots program through to local and regional team representation.”

Al Dhalai added: “We congratulate Saoud and Marwa on this momentous opportunity, and we are confident they will relish this experience, and represent our country, the Federation and Emirates Airline with immense pride.”

Alongside flagbearer honours, the ‘Emirates Flag Bearers campaign’ for Rugby World Cup 2019 will see Al Kaabi, Al Naqbi and their respective guardians receive return flights to Japan, three-nights’ accommodation in Tokyo and tickets to enjoy the bronze final at Tokyo Stadium.

Aside from the UAE, the Emirates Flagbearers campaign is running across 7 other countries, including the host country, Japan, to recruit fans between the ages of 10 and 16 and offer them the opportunity to lead a team out onto the pitch. Emirates has also opened the flagbearer opportunity to its global Skywards membership. So far, 39 flagbearers have been chosen ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019.

Emirates has been supporting rugby in the UAE since 1987, when the airline became the Dubai Rugby Sevens’ official sponsor. In addition to Rugby World Cup 2019, the airline also sponsors World Rugby Referees and Match Officials.

Rula Tadros 

Emirates Public Relations