Gilpin, 47, has performed the role of Interim Chief Executive following Brett Gosper’s departure in January and is highly regarded within the rugby and wider sport’s business community.
Gilpin has 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.
His leadership expertise, ability to assemble strong delivery teams and focus on innovation, along with the fan and player experience have played a strong role in the hosting of the most successful men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups to date. He has also transformed the future hosting model to broaden interest and impact.
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Commenting 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 organisation 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.”
World Rugby Vice-Chairman Bernard Laporte added: “Alan Gilpin’s appointment is excellent news for World Rugby. There were a number of excellent candidates, including Alan, but I am delighted for him – he is the right person to lead the organisation forward and I look forward to working with him, especially on our upcoming World Cups in 2022 and 2023.”
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 programme for the London 2012 Olympic Games and was instrumental in the delivery of a record Rugby World Cup 2015 official hospitality programme.
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, 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 organisation that is at a really exciting stage in its history,” he said. “With a new Strategic Plan ready to launch, considerable talent within the organisation, 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 centre of our strategy, along with investing in participation growth with our member unions and regional associations.
“Rugby World Cup 2023 in France will be a spectacular tournament, marking the 200th anniversary of rugby, while the Rugby World Cup 2021 tournament in New Zealand (now postponed to 2022) is at the core of our increased commitment and investment in the growth of women’s rugby. We are already in discussions with potential hosts for the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups in 2025, 2027, 2029 and 2031 to ensure that we have long-term hosting certainty for our pinnacle events, to drive revenue growth and allow ever-increasing investment. These events, combined with rugby sevens in the Olympic Games and our annual HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, provide a vital aspirational pathway for girls and boys playing rugby all over the world.”