Tom Harrison, the former chief executive (CEO) of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) governing body, has been appointed to lead European rugby union’s Six Nations tournament.

Today's (January 27) announcement comes seven months after Harrison stepped down from the top executive post at the national cricket body (which he had held since January 2015) last June.

Harrison will be replacing Ben Morel, whose departure as chief executive was made public in November and who has since been appointed to the same position at the new commercial entity associated with French top-tier soccer’s LFP league structure.

The former ECB chief will begin his role as CEO of Six Nations Rugby in March, before taking over fully from Morel at the start of April, at which point the latter executive will take up his position at the LFP.

Six Nations Rugby conducted a search for a candidate with substantial experience in handling sports media rights and the appointment reflected Harrison’s track record in this department at the ECB. 

Harrison will work alongside Ronan Dunne, chair of the Six Nations Limited entity.

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Of his appointment, he said: “The Six Nations Rugby Championships stand alongside the most famous and treasured competitions in sport. They are rich in history and have an enduring appeal with fans all over the world. It’s a huge privilege to join the organization and play a part in the continued development of this celebrated brand and to serve rugby union more widely.

“There is a real momentum within the organization, and I am really looking forward to working with the wider team, collaborating with each union and federation, and supporting the enviable roster of broadcast and commercial partners.”

Dunne added: “Tom joins Six Nations Rugby at a hugely exciting time for the organization, the sport, and its fans. He brings with him a wealth of experience that is going to be instrumental in helping meet the ambitions and goals of the business, and I am looking forward to working with him to achieve these.

"I would like to thank Ben for his dedication and leadership, during his five years as CEO, and congratulate him on the achievements he has overseen in that time.”

Before being appointed CEO at the ECB, Harrison spent periods of time at both IMG, the international sports and entertainment agency giant, and at heavyweight Asian broadcaster ESPN Star Sports (now just Star Sports).

At IMG, he was responsible, through different roles, for handling the agency’s media business in both the UK and Singapore.

Currently, the Six Nations – starting next month (February) – are shown predominantly by free-to-air networks across the main target markets and countries involved, whereas the late-year internationals during which the likes of South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand travel north are shown through a mix of pay-TV broadcasters and streaming platforms.