As part of the week-long festival, this year Etihad Airways, in partnership with Harlequins, will launch the first ever Academy Week where two leading UK school 1st XV teams - Sedbergh and Millfield - travel to Abu Dhabi for a week of intensive training with Harlequins academy coaches.
The training sessions will see the young players replicating the preparation of the Harlequins professional side with a sports programme consisting of skills work, technical coaching, and recovery sessions. In addition, the players will work on strength and conditioning throughout the week. The two teams will then challenge each other in an exhibition fixture at 5pm on Friday October 25th at Zayed Sports City.
In parallel with the new Academy Week, the Etihad Airways Community Schools' Week will take UK-based Harlequins community coaches to more than 10 UAE schools, teaching basic rugby skills to more than 500 children aged between seven and 14.
Harlequins Director of Rugby, Conor O'Shea, will again visit Abu Dhabi during the festival week, and will host a question and answers session alongside Abu Dhabi Harlequins Chairman Andy Cole and former Scotland rugby union player Gavin Hastings, on October 23rd at the Hilton Capital Grand.
Etihad Airways' Chief Commercial Officer, Peter Baumgartner, said: "The Etihad Airways Junior Rugby Festival is a long-standing fixture in the UAE's sporting calendar, and a fantastic reinforcement of our support of grassroots sport in this country, as well as across the GCC and the rest of the world.
"Our sponsorship of Harlequins allows us to provide young people with a unique opportunity to train with some of the sports' finest coaches, and we are delighted to be working alongside Abu Dhabi Harlequins for the sixth consecutive year."
The culmination of the festival will take place on October 25th and 26th, when over 200 youth teams compete in the two-day Etihad Airways Junior Rugby Tournament at Zayed Sports City.