Gill Whitehead to chair board of new joint venture structure that will oversee the delivery of Rugby World Cup 2025 in England under new hosting model

New Board will feature World Rugby, RFU, UK Government and independent representatives

England 2025 follows a transformational Rugby World Cup in New Zealand that smashed records and set new standards

England 2025 will feature 16 teams in an expanded competition

Gill Whitehead has been appointed independent Chair of the Rugby World Cup 2025 Board of Directors, marking a major milestone in tournament planning.

A joint venture between World Rugby and the RFU, with funding from the UK Government, Rugby World Cup 2025 will usher in a new era as the first Rugby World Cup to be delivered under World Rugby’s new hosting model.

Whitehead will bring an impressive wealth of leadership and executive board experience in the media and technology sectors with the likes of Google, the BBC and Channel 4 and considerable non-executive experience spanning FTSE 100 companies and the British Olympic Association.

As independent Chair, Whitehead will preside over a Board structure that comprises World Rugby, RFU and UK Government nominated representatives and a further skills-based independent director. The Board composition will be announced in due course. The new Board structure will enable all stakeholders to maximise key objectives that will underpin a clear vision for the tournament to be the biggest and best women’s rugby event ever, elevating women in rugby on a global basis, delivering a lasting legacy, championing sustainability and delivering an exceptional fan experience.

With a passion for women’s sport and in particular women’s rugby, Whitehead played rugby to a representative level and can be found on the touchline of Beaconsfield RFC, where, as a RFU Level 2 coach, she has been involved in youth rugby at the club.

Whitehead said: “It is a dream come true to help bring the next women’s Rugby World Cup to England. Building on the Lionesses at the Euros to the thrilling final between the Red Roses and Black Ferns at Eden Park, England 2025 represents a real opportunity to further inspire girls, women and communities across the UK and globe, and to once again illustrate the sheer excitement, enjoyment and excellence that women’s sport offers.”

Following a very special and record-breaking New Zealand tournament that raised the bar in performance, attendance and engagement outcomes, Rugby World Cup 2025 aims to set new standards in rugby event hosting on and off the field as an inspirer of fan and participation growth, an agent for positive change and the biggest women’s rugby event ever organised with 16 teams battle to be crowned world champions.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “When we announced England as the host nation for Rugby World Cup 2025, we knew we would be breaking new ground as the first event to be organised under the revised Rugby World Cup model and at a time when interest and participation in women’s sport, and women’s rugby, is on a massive high.

“Working in full partnership with the RFU and UK Government, we have set the bar high in terms of what success looks like and central to achieving this ambition is the appointment of Gill Whitehead as independent Chair of the Board of Directors. We are delighted to be welcoming someone of her calibre to preside over the planning and preparation for what will be a transformative Rugby World Cup.

“In addition to Gill’s impressive leadership credentials, she has a proven track record in digital transformation, data analytics and insight, advertising and diversity and inclusion – all central to the delivery of what we believe will be the biggest and most impactful women’s rugby event of all time, advancing the profile, reach and inspiration of women’s sport in England and across the globe.”

RFU Chair Tom Ilube added: “It’s our collective ambition to deliver a truly game-changing tournament that inspires a generation of players both in England and around the globe to get involved in rugby. 

“We look forward to working with Gill, whose business acumen and passion for rugby are clear, in achieving this ambition through Rugby World Cup 2025.”

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