The World Rugby governing body has appointed Neil Hitchen to head up its finance department.

Hitchen joins the organization from City Football Group (CFG), the owner of English giants Manchester City and multiple other clubs worldwide, where he served as finance director.

He will take up his new position with World Rugby in September and replace former chief financial officer Robert Brophy who stepped down in June after almost three decades in the role. 

The process to recruit Brophy’s successor was managed by sports industry recruitment firm SRI.

Hitchen has decades of experience in the sport and entertainment sector with roles in broadcasting, film and TV production, and music at Factory Records, twofour54 Abu Dhabi, ITV, and Virgin Media respectively, before moving into sport with CFG.

His appointment follows that of Jasmin Allott as group technology director within World Rugby’s corporate services team led by chief operating officer Charlotte Samuelson.

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Hitchen will be responsible for the overall management of World Rugby’s EventsCo and international federation financial structures.  

Samuelson said: “With a wealth of sports, entertainment, and business sectors experience, Neil joins at an exciting time and is a perfect fit for an evolving and transforming business and sport with an ambition to break new markets, attract new audiences, and drive new revenue growth.  

“I look forward to working with Neil as he heads up a strong and dynamic finance team that underpins our business growth and the growth of the sport more broadly at an exciting and transformative time for the sport.”  

World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin added: “We look forward to welcoming Neil to the World Rugby family as we springboard into a new era of events hosting where World Rugby forms joint venture partnerships with hosts, driving new fan and revenue growth that will underpin our strategic mission to grow the sport globally.”  

Hitchen will join the governing body ahead of the start of the 2023 Rugby World Cup which takes place in France between September 8 and October 28.