Airlines serving New Zealand are again putting their weight behind rugby.

Emirates yesterday announced a sponsorship agreement for the Rugby World Cups 2015 and 2019 which will be held in England and Japan, respectively.

Last week, Air New Zealand announced it had renewed its commitment to the All Blacks for the 2014 season.

Emirates said it had extended its sponsorship of the International Rugby Board's match officials until the end of 2019, which includes for the first time in World Cup history the rights to brand the shirts of match officials during the tournament.


Emirates first sponsored the Cup in 2007 in France as a tournament sponsor, and then became a worldwide partner for the 2011 tournament in New Zealand, won by the All Blacks.

"Rugby is a core part of Emirates' sports sponsorship portfolio," said Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline.

"The 2011 tournament in New Zealand was the most widely-broadcast Rugby World Cup ever, and we anticipate the next two Rugby World Cups will only be more spectacular."

The 2015 Cup kicks off on September 18 at Twickenham with hosts England taking on a yet-to-be decided qualifying national team from the Oceania 1 region.

So far 13 countries have qualified, with the remaining seven teams to make up the final 20 to be decided through qualifying matches over the coming months.

Air New Zealand said it will this year launch a global campaign promoting the association between the airline and the national team, featuring Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Kieran Read.

Carter was named an "ambassador" last week, joining teammate and captain Richie McCaw.