The Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union will host the 2006 IRB U19 World Championship in Dubai from 4-21 April. The event is seen as a major talent factory for international rugby and is one of the world's toughest breeding grounds for the next generation of elite rugby players. The tournament will be sponsored by Emirates Airline.
IRB Head of Rugby Services Mark Egan is delighted that the World Championship will be held in Dubai and, bearing in mind the continued success of the annual Dubai Sevens, is confident that the city has the capacity to successfully stage the world-class event.
"Dubai has already proved it can host major international sporting events and we are very pleased that the best U19 rugby players on the world stage will be on display in such a thriving sporting metropolis."
"The IRB U19 World Championship gives rugby's rising talent exposure to competitive tournament conditions at an early age and some of the players who will compete in Dubai next year will be among the international stars of the future."
"The IRB has invested significant resources in U19 rugby across all of its international Regional Associations and the annual World Championship is the pinnacle of this age grade strategy," he added.
Emirates Chairman, HH Sheikh Ahmed, said: "Hosting the IRB U19 World Championship will further enhance Dubai's position as one of the leading sporting centres in the world. It offers Dubai a great opportunity to showcase itself as a unique centre for hosting world-class sporting events."
"For Emirates, there is no greater satisfaction than to be involved with a sport at the grassroots level. We see this as a wonderful opportunity to throw our support behind rugby's best and upcoming young players," he added.
The announcement that Dubai will host the competition continues the sport's blossoming progress in the region. The two-tier event will see 800 of the finest young players from 24 countries play across two divisions of 12 teams each.
"This championship will continue to drive the sport of rugby in the region and will also help to attract new talent and interest to our game," said David Skidmore, Chairman of the Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union.
The 2005 IRB U19 World Championships were held in Durban, South Africa. The final was contested between hosts South Africa and New Zealand and attracted almost 15,000 spectators. Emirates Airline is a strong supporter of rugby in a number of countries and the sponsorship of the IRB U19 World Championship continues its worldwide backing of the game.
The airline recently signed a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with Australia's new Super 14 rugby team, the Western Force - now called Emirates Western Force. Other major rugby sponsorships include the popular Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, the London and South African Sevens tournaments (all part of the prestigious IRB Sevens series) and the England and Samoan Sevens teams.