World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper is to step down in January after accepting a new role as head of the NFL in Europe and the UK.
It will end Gosper’s nine-year tenure as one of the foremost officials at World Rugby’s headquarters in Dublin.
In his time, the New Zealander has worked to have sevens return to the Olympics and the delivery of the first Rugby World Cup hosted by an Asian nation.
He featured in the recently-released Dan Leo documentary Oceans Apart, offering a response to Leo’s work examining the hardships of rugby players in the Pacific Islands as well as allegations of corruption at a sporting and government level.
Gosper will also vacate input into the continued talks between the Six Nations and Sanzar over an aligned ‘global rugby calendar’ by going to work for the NFL, an organisation that is seeking to grow its markets in the rapidly-expanding markets of the UK and Germany.
“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 Gosper.
“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.”
Rumours over Gosper’s position at World Rugby began to circulate after the World Cup in Japan last year, with reports in South Africa suggesting SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux was being lined up to replace towards the end of 2020.
Roux is a close ally of World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont, as one of the senior figures overseeing talks to develop a global calendar for which Beaumont campaigned for when the governing body held elections earlier this year in May.