BRETT GOSPER, who has served as Chief Executive of World Rugby since 2012, is to join the National Football League as Head of Europe and UK, it was announced today.
In almost nine years at the helm of World Rugby, Gosper has overseen transformational change of the international federation, strengthening the business and its financial outcomes and pivoting its focus from game regulator to game inspirer, overseeing record participation and audience growth, ensuring rugby sevens’ heralded return to the Olympic stage and delivering game-changing men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups that yielded record fan-engagement, broadcast, sponsorship and financial outcomes.
Gosper has also presided over the sport’s ongoing player welfare mission, championing evidence-based injury-prevention initiatives, particularly in the priority area of concussion, and strengthening relationships with the International Rugby Players body, who now have representation across the organisation’s decision-making bodies, along with coaches and match officials.
Under Gosper’s leadership, the 2015 Rugby World Cup saw 2.47 million tickets sold and commercial and ticketing revenues in excess of £650 million, generating more than £260 million in profit for reinvestment in the global game. Further records were set at Asia’s first Rugby World Cup in 2019, with commercial and ticketing revenues reaching £750 million, leading to a profit of £240 million, and digital engagement totalling 1.7 billion video views,
“It’s been a fantastic nine years,” said Gosper. “It has been an absolute privilege to have worked with so many talented and dedicated rugby people around the world. I’ve been supported by two excellent chairmen in Sir Bill Beaumont and Bernard Lapasset along the way, excellent committees, and a brilliant team at World Rugby.
“Rugby is a wonderful sport and World Rugby is a fantastic organisation, 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. I am proud of what we have achieved together as a rugby family. While I will miss working in the sport, my passion and enthusiasm for what rugby and its values mean to so many will never diminish.
“I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to rugby’s growth and success during my time at World Rugby and in particular Bill Beaumont for his support, vision and leadership over the last four years.”
Sir Bill Beaumont added: “Brett leaves World Rugby with the organisation in a much stronger position then when he joined, and he should be very proud of what he has achieved working in partnership with our unions and regions, creating a more dynamic and efficient environment for the organisation to drive positive, impactful change in the sport.
“Brett will be a very hard act to follow. 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.”
Gosper’s role will see him drive the next stage of the league’s growth in Europe. Reporting to Christopher Halpin, NFL Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy and Growth Officer, he will have overarching responsibility for the successful execution of NFL business strategy across the UK and Europe, including fan growth, live games and commercial success.
Welcoming Gosper to the NFL, Halpin said: “We are tremendously excited to have Brett joining the NFL in such an important role. The UK has been a core market of investment and growth for the NFL over the last decade, and we believe broader Europe presents a number of similar attractive opportunities to expand the game and our fan base. Brett’s exceptional skills and experience make him the ideal leader to build on our momentum and grow the NFL.”