World Rugby chief executive, Brett Gosper, is set to step down from his role in January before moving to a new role as head of the National Football League (NFL) in Europe and the UK.
Gosper, who has been in the position for nine years, has overseen two successful Rugby World Cups in 2015 and 2019, as well as reintroduce rugby sevens into the Olympics.
Chief operating officer Alan Gilpin will act as the interim chief executive until a replacement can be appointed.
“It’s been a fantastic nine years. It has been an absolute privilege to have worked with so many talented and dedicated rugby people around the world,” said Gilpin.
“Rugby is a wonderful sport and World Rugby is a fantastic organisation, and therefore it was a very difficult decision to leave.
“But with a new ambitious strategic plan set to launch and the strong foundations in place to drive the sport forward beyond the pandemic, the time is right for me to begin a new challenge.
“I am proud of what we have achieved together as a rugby family. While I will miss working in the sport, my passion and enthusiasm for what rugby and its values mean to so many will never diminish.”
Christopher Halpin, the NFL's chief strategy and growth officer, added: “The UK has been a core market of investment and growth for the NFL over the last decade, and we believe broader Europe presents a number of similar attractive opportunities to expand the game and our fanbase. Brett’s exceptional skills and experience make him the ideal leader to build on our momentum and grow the NFL.”
The NFL has targeted Europe and the UK to help grow the sport globally in recent years. Games had been staged in London every year since 2007, until this year where they were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league signed a 10-year deal with Tottenham Hotspur in 2015 to stage matches inside of their new stadium.
Author: Jake Wilkin