World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper will join the NFL as its head of Europe and the U.K. Gosper will leave World Rugby at the beginning of 2021 and work out of the NFL’s London office. Chief Operating Officer Alan Gilpin will take on the role of interim CEO until the international federation appoints a new executive.
“Rugby is a wonderful sport and World Rugby is a fantastic organization, and therefore it was a very difficult decision to leave, but with a new ambitious strategic plan set to launch and the strong foundations in place to drive the sport forward beyond the pandemic, the time is right for me to begin a new challenge,” said Gosper in a statement.
He’ll be entrusted with increasing American football fandom in European countries, where the NFL has looked to expand in recent years. One of the league’s goals is to eventually have a game in Germany. Earlier this year the NFL was forced to cancel its international games in London and Mexico City due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As head of World Rugby over the last nine years, Gosper oversaw record growth in finances, participation, audience numbers and fan engagement and helped the sport return to the Olympics. “I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to rugby’s growth and success during my time at World Rugby and in particular [chairman] Bill Beaumont for his support, vision and leadership over the last four years,” Gosper said.
“Brett will be a very hard act to follow,” Beaumont said in a statement. “But with a new strategic plan set to launch, strong staff and stakeholder relationships, transformed interim committees and a dynamic Executive Committee, Rugby World Cup Board and Council, we are perfectly positioned to continue to drive the sport forward on and off the field and ensure it is as attractive and engaging to players and audiences.”