Experienced media and tech executive Gill Whitehead has today (January 31) been appointed independent chair of the Rugby World Cup 2025 board of directors.

She will chair the board of a new joint venture structure set up by the international governing body World Rugby and England’s RFU.

With funding from the UK government, the joint venture will oversee the delivery of the 2025 rugby union women's tournament in England, which will be the first Rugby World Cup to be delivered under World Rugby’s new hosting model.

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 maximize 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.”

Whitehead has leadership and executive board experience in the media and technology sectors with the likes of Google, the BBC, and Channel 4, and non-executive experience across FTSE 100 companies and the British Olympic Association.

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By GlobalData

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.

Bill Beaumont, World Rugby chairman, 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 organized 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 caliber 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.”