The World’s Best Airline, known for supporting sports globally, has entered into multi-year agreements with three top rugby organisations in recognition of the growth and passion demonstrated by rugby fans in key travel markets across Western Europe and South Africa.
The new partnership was welcomed by Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby: “I have no doubt that Doha will become a very familiar and welcoming staging post for all our teams and staff,” he said. “We are delighted to welcome Qatar to the family and to share this amazing new rugby journey, literally and figuratively, with them over the coming years.”
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “At Qatar Airways, we bring the world and communities together – through travel, of course, but also through sport. Today, we continue that mission by providing greater access to fans to watch their favourite teams compete, and supporting URC players and coaches and South African teams competing in EPCR competitions as they make cross-hemisphere trips via Doha to match destinations.”
The three-year partnership kicked-off on Sunday with a celebration at Hamad International Airport in Doha. Inside the Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker was joined by Mr Mark Alexander, President of the South Africa Rugby Union; Martin Anayi, Chief Executive Officer of the URC; Anthony Lepage, Chief Executive Officer of the EPCR; Ali Price, scrumhalf of the Glasgow Warriors; and Johan Goosen, flyhalf of the Vodacom Bulls, to commemorate the partnership.
Anayi said: “Our league has greatly broadened its horizons in the past 12 months and we are honoured that Qatar Airways have become one of our key partners.
“Travel is at the heart of all of our competitions and this partnership will allow us to tap into the incredible expertise and knowledge available at Qatar Airways as they support our teams and fans on their journeys to some of the biggest games of the season.”
Lepage added: “We are very pleased to welcome Qatar Airways as our South African Airline Partner and enter into this partnership alongside the URC. As we welcome five South African clubs into the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup, the support from Qatar Airways will be key in helping players and coaches travel to face new competition from clubs in England and France.
“We are entering a new global phase of our competitions and Qatar Airways will play a key part in delivering the pinnacle of club rugby competitions to more audiences than ever before.”
As part of the partnership, Qatar Airways will support the Vodacom URC and EPRC grow the game globally and will soon be offering Vodacom URC all-inclusive Travel Packages with Flights, hotels and match tickets. Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States and across Africa, Asia and the Middle East for both men and women.
Adding the Vodacom United Rugby Championship (URC) and European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) to its already extensive sports portfolio solidifies Qatar Airways as a brand committed to supporting sport across the globe. Qatar Airways is a leading global football supporter including FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, Paris Saint-Germain, FC Bayern München, Concacaf, CONMEBOL.
Additionally, Qatar Airways is the official airline of the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 Triathlon Series, GKA Kite World Tour and multiple equestrianism, padel, squash and tennis events.
A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was announced as the ‘Airline of the Year’ at the 2021 World Airline Awards, managed by the international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax.
It was also named ‘World’s Best Business Class’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Lounge’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Seat’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Onboard Catering’ and ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’. The airline continues to stand alone at the top of the industry having won the main prize for an unprecedented sixth time (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021).
Qatar Airways currently flies to more than 150 destinations worldwide, connecting through its Doha hub, Hamad International Airport, currently named ‘Airport of the Year’ by Skytrax World Airport Awards 2022.