The World Rugby international governing body has appointed Charlotte Samuelson as its first chief operating officer.

Samuelson, who joins from Close Brothers, where she was group head of audit, will be responsible for all of the governing body’s corporate activities, “including finance, legal, technology, risk, and HR”, the organization has said. She will officially join World Rugby in May and will be based in Dublin.

The appointment follows World Rugby creating a new strategic plan for the sport last year, and the organization has said bringing Samuelson on board is “in line with the advancement of [our] structures to deliver against the pillars” of that plan.

Samuelson’s experience covers senior roles at firms including Vanquis Bank, Barclays Bank, and Grant Thornton, as well as consulting and audit positions at Ernst and Young and at the UK's BBC broadcaster.

She also currently serves, and has done since April 2016, as a non-executive director at Surrey County Cricket Club.

Samuelson said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed to a role which combines my passion for sport and two decades of cross-sector corporate experience. We have exciting times ahead at World Rugby and ensuring that we are operating with best-in-class corporate functions is integral to the successful delivery of our strategic plan.”

Alan Gilpin, World Rugby’s chief executive, who took up that role permanently in March last year, added: “We have recently undertaken a full review of the World Rugby organization as we look to deliver global growth for rugby in a rapidly-evolving and highly-competitive sports market. To do this, we need to have world-class people, technology, systems and processes in place.

“Charlotte’s extensive and broad experience will enable us to continue to develop and invest in our people and these key areas, supporting the growth of rugby and the growth of World Rugby as a business that invests in the game globally.”

The World Rugby strategic plan, published in September last year, focuses on three pillars – participation, competition, and engagement.

The work builds upon World Rugby’s £570 million ($786 million) investment used to support unions and regions in their quest to develop the sport during the 2020-23 period.

It comes following the release of the organization's strategic plan, A Global Sport for All True to its Values, back in April 2021, which was created with the aim of ensuring the future of the code through until 2025.

World Rugby will seek to provide the resources for unions and regions to attract new players and keep existing ones following the coronavirus pandemic.