Quins extend world wide reach

It has been a busy and successful 2007/08 season for Harlequins. Not only did the team establish itself as a serious contender in the Guinness Premiership, and qualify for next season’s Heineken Cup, but the club also launched its main sponsorship agreement with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates.

Etihad has embraced the Harlequins sponsorship in its first season, which has seen the airline get involved with all aspects of the club. Harlequins would now like to announce another major partnership between Harlequins and the United Arab Emirates as it develops links with Abu Dhabi Rugby Club.

Based in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi Rugby Club, also sponsored by Etihad Airways, has over 1600 members, ranging in from age groups Under 5 to Under 19 in the junior section, to men, veteran and women in the senior section.

As part of the new agreement, Abu Dhabi Rugby Club has become an affiliated club of Harlequin FC, and the Club has officially re-named itself Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby Club. Not only has the Middle Eastern rugby club incorporated the Quins iconic name, but it has also adopted the historic four quartered shirt. This will be with a Middle Eastern twist, using the four colours from the United Emirates flag (red, green, black and white).

With England and Harlequins star, David Strettle, having already visited Abu Dhabi RFC during the 2007/08 season, future plans will see Abu Dhabi coaches given the chance to shadow Quins coaches at training sessions in London, learning from the experience and knowledge of Director of Rugby, Dean Richards, along with Head Coach, John Kingston and his team.

Other plans include developing Harlequins Etihad Rugby Schools in Abu Dhabi and sending Quins players and coaches to Abu Dhabi to assist with the future development of junior rugby in the Emirate.

Abu Dhabi Harlequins is the latest in a series of official rugby club affiliations across the world, including Dallas Harlequin RFC Inc, Future Hope Harlequins Calcutta (Ind), Kenya Harlequins FC (Nairobi), Harlequin Club Inc (Melbourne), The Harlequin Club (Hobart, Taz), Harlequin Rugby Club (Pretoria) and Harlequin RFC Inc (NZ).

Laura Oakes, Sponsorship Manager of Harlequins, said: ‘It’s fantastic that we can develop further links with Abu Dhabi and help spread the name of Harlequins around the world. There is an enormous interest in rugby in the Middle East, especially from expatriates, and we are keen to develop further links with a rugby club of this size and stature. Through our partnership with Etihad Airways we are also helping to develop rugby in a non-traditional rugby playing nation, which can only be good for the sport as a whole. We look forward to working closely with the club over the coming years.’

Commenting on the affiliation, Richard Harris, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby Club, said: ‘From the Abu Dhabi perspective, we can only see huge positives coming out of the affiliation. Exposure to the workings of an operation the size of London Harlequins will allow us to fast track the development of the club both on and off the field. Apart from the obvious player and coaching benefits, we are hoping that this affiliation will lead to greater media and local interest with a stated aim of developing rugby as a sport of choice amongst the local Emerati Population.’

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ executive vice president marketing and product, said: ‘The first year of Etihad’s partnership with Harlequins has been a huge success and we look forward to another exciting season both on and off the pitch with our friends at the Stoop. Etihad is also delighted that Abu Dhabi RFC and Harlequins have formed their own partnership which will boost ties that go beyond the game of rugby.’


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