Sarah Massey has today (April 27) been announced as managing director of the 2025 Rugby World Cup (RWC) local operating company (LOC), a new joint venture structure set up by the World Rugby international governing body for rugby union and England’s RFU national governing body.

With funding from the UK government, the joint venture will oversee the delivery of rugby union’s showpiece women's tournament in England, which will be the first Rugby World Cup to be delivered under World Rugby’s new hosting model.

Massey will join the organizing company in May “as a number of key foundational strategies are completed, including the city and venue selection process, ticketing, domestic and international legacy strategy finalization.”

Her appointment follows the announcement of Gill Whitehead as independent chair of the board of directors for the tournament in January.

Massey has operated in the sports industry for more than 30 years in roles across Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby, cricket, and hockey World Cups as well as international and national sport governing bodies.   

She most recently served as chief executive of the World Athletics Championships in Oregon last year. This was preceded by seven years at the International Hockey Federation as events, marketing, and strategy director, as well as a stint with the International Tennis Federation.

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On her appointment, Massey said: “Rugby has always been a big part of my life and a catalyst for my career in sport. It began working for the Rugby Football Union which led me into working on a transformative Rugby World Cup 1995.

“It is that same opportunity to change the game, with women and girls at the forefront of World Rugby and RFU’s growth strategies, that really attracted me to this role.

“Working as a unified LOC, in full partnership with World Rugby, the RFU, UK Sport, and the host cities, we have the opportunity to achieve something very special, impactful and that will ultimately take the women’s game and rugby more broadly to the next level.” 

Whitehead added: “Attracting someone of Sarah’s caliber, experience, expertise, and insights from a host of major sports events is another demonstration of intent for a Rugby World Cup that will be so much more than a world-class event. 

“As an inspirer, motivator, and accelerant, England 2025 will change the game, attracting new fans and participants to the sport, championing equality, and changing the game for a new generation of women in rugby.”  

Announced last year when the US, Australia, and England were awarded various upcoming World Cup hosting rights (across both the men's and women's games), the new hosting model will see World Rugby form partnerships with national unions and governments to establish a local delivery structure in chosen destinations.

The aim is to optimize opportunities for the growth of the code and provide more certainty and support for tournament hosts and prospective hosts.

The new model is intended to further build on the improved future host selection process that was introduced in 2020.

The 2025 women’s Rugby World Cup will feature an expanded 16 teams.