Welcome Alan Gilpin, World Rugby CEO

Welcome Alan Gilpin, World Rugby CEO

Announced last week, the new Chief Executive Officer for World Rugby is Alan Gilpin. And while it is not groundbreaking in his placement, it furthers the continuity in leadership and strategy.

By promoting from within, World Rugby have taken the safe route, and has every confidence in their man. Gilpin is highly regarded within the rugby and wider sport’s business community. With a broad and intimate understanding of World Rugby’s business operations having performed the dual role of Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Managing Director of Rugby World Cup since 2016, after joining the international federation to run the portfolio of Rugby World Cup properties in 2014.

Commenting in a media release on the appointment, World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Alan is well known and very well respected by the rugby family through his roles as Managing Director of Rugby World Cup and Chief Operating Officer of World Rugby, and I have long admired his passion, energy, innovation and leadership skills.

“I am excited by Alan’s vision for the future of the organization and the moves the sport needs to take to become truly global and drive sustainable growth in new, key markets. His intimate knowledge of the business of the sport, the opportunities and challenges we collectively face as a family, and his excellent leadership and stakeholder relations skills make him the stand-out and right choice for this role at an important and exciting time for the sport globally.”

Introducing Alan Gilpin, World Rugby CEO

Gilpin has rugby and sport in his DNA. With a legal background, he spent nine years at IMG where he was responsible for the commercial rights negotiations across the Rugby World Cups in 2003, 2007, and 2011. Then, in a leadership role with a joint venture between Sodexo and Mike Burton Group, he oversaw the award-winning hospitality program for the London 2012 Olympic Games and was instrumental in the delivery of a record Rugby World Cup 2015 official hospitality program.

Having overseen the delivery of record-breaking men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups and played a significant role in the transformation of the international federation’s business operations in recent years as COO, Alan Gilpin is fully focused on the future.

“I am immensely proud and honoured to take up the role as Chief Executive of World Rugby, and to lead an organization that is at a really exciting stage in its history,” he said. “With a new Strategic Plan ready to launch, considerable talent within the organization, and an executive board that has ambitious goals for the next few years, it is set to be a pivotal period in the growth of the sport.

“I am also well aware of the challenges that we face as we emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic and seek to get rugby back on the field in many parts of the world. Working with our members and partners, we will continue with our mission to grow the global rugby family, while furthering welfare and injury prevention for players at all levels. Attracting and engaging new audiences and delivering compelling and competitive international tournaments remains at the center of our strategy, along with investing in participation growth with our member unions and regional associations.”

In recent weeks, the global pandemic has interrupted the planning for the Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand. The women’s tournament has had to be postponed until 2022. A real setback for the upward trend of the women’s game yet alongside Katie Sadleir and Alison Hughes looked to retain their advantage by announcing the WXV.

WXV aims to benefit Women’s game with real purpose 3-Tier initiative

By pushing on with the implementation of this long-awaited global calendar and tiered competition, Gilpin will maintain his touchpoint with the grassroots. That is good strategy for the women’s stakeholders, as well as the social and corporate base. Important steps for the entire organization, to continue the positive community messages.

The change in leadership from Brett Gosper has been seamless, and apart from the difference in personality, will not upset the goals and achievements made (and still to be made).


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