The ‘Crazy about Rugby’ airline, which has been a sponsor of rugby in New Zealand for more than two decades and an official partner of the All Blacks since 1998, has also signed on for the first time as primary sponsor of the kids’ Rippa Rugby National Championships.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the airline is thrilled to be taking its commitment to New Zealand rugby even further.

“We are extremely proud to be supporting the world champion All Blacks, especially as they gear up for a very important season starting with the history-making match against Manu Samoa in Apia on Wednesday.  We’re excited about operating our special fan flight to Apia to get loyal supporters to the game.

“As an airline that’s crazy about rugby from the grassroots up we are also dedicated to supporting community rugby across all of New Zealand’s regions which is why we have signed on as sponsor of the Rippa Rugby National Championship.”

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Officer Steve Tew says Air New Zealand’s partnership has been hugely beneficial to both the All Blacks and the wider New Zealand community over the years.

“The airline has been instrumental in not only getting the All Blacks to Tests, but also connecting the team to more fans around the world through its clever marketing campaigns, charter flights and special community events. It’s great to have them backing our teams over an exciting five years ahead for rugby which includes another Rugby World Cup and a British and Irish Lions tour.

“We really appreciate the support of sponsors like Air New Zealand who help boost the profile of rugby and ensure the game remains financially healthy so we can continue to invest in rugby at all levels, retain our best players and produce winning teams.”

Under the new sponsorship agreement Air New Zealand will be known as the Official Airline of the All Blacks and the All Blacks Sevens.

The All Blacks vs Manu Samoa game in Apia on 8 July is the first time the All Blacks will play in Samoa and the first All Blacks match of 2015.

In addition to the charter flight which departs today, giving fans the chance to fly with the team and their touring party, Air New Zealand is celebrating the historic occasion with an All Blacks community day and parade in Apia on 7 July.

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Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs ph +64 21 747 320