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RFU appoints BOA boss Bill Sweeney as new chief executive

RFU appoints BOA boss Bill Sweeney as new chief executive
© Reuters
The current British Olympic Association chief executive replaces Steve Brown, who left his role at the RFU in November after less than 15 months.

Bill Sweeney is the new chief executive of the Rugby Football Union.

The current British Olympic Association (BOA) chief executive replaces Steve Brown at the RFU, who left his role in November after less than 15 months at the helm.

Nigel Melville will continue as the RFU's interim CEO until Sweeney takes up his post, with his start date to be confirmed.

— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 19, 2019

Former USA Rugby chief executive Melville should return to his previous RFU role of professional rugby director once Sweeney takes charge.

"We are delighted to announce Bill's appointment as CEO," said RFU chairman Andy Cosslett.

"He brings a rare combination of experience from the worlds of blue-chip business and elite sport and has a tremendous track record in both. His passion for the game is deep-rooted and this will stand him in very good stead."

Sweeney has held the top job at the BOA since 2013 and insisted joining the RFU was the sole job for which he would have moved.

Bill Sweeney, centre, is on his way to the RFU
Bill Sweeney, centre, is on his way to the RFU (Steven Paston/PA)

The RFU will hope his appointment can spell the end of a frustrating time where Brown resigned amid irritations of frequent attacks from predecessors like Francis Baron.

Brown strongly rejected suggestions his departure was predicated on financial difficulties and a string of cost-cutting measures like redundancies.

Sweeney's challenge then will be to bind the RFU back together behind the scenes, while also dealing with the continued wrangling over the revised global calendar following this year's World Cup.

The former British Olympic boss will have to hit the ground running as a universally popular solution to calendar constraints continues to elude the world game's power brokers.

"I leave behind a very strong British Olympic Association, both financially and in readiness for Tokyo 2020," said Sweeney.

"This is the only opportunity that I would have left the BOA for. From the grassroots game to our England teams, rugby's values and opportunities are very special. I am passionate about the game and it is an honour to be joining the RFU team."

The RFU confirmed in a statement that Melville will stay on in his temporary role until Sweeney starts, adding: "Nigel Melville will continue as Interim Chief Executive until Bill Sweeney commences his role at Twickenham – these dates will be agreed shortly."

Sweeney's BOA bosses revealed their disappointment at his departure, with the 2020 games fast hurtling into view.

"I am disappointed to be losing Bill, especially at this stage of the Tokyo 2020 cycle," said BOA chair Sir Hugh Robertson.

"He leaves after strong performances for Team GB in Sochi, Rio and PyeongChang. We wish him well in his new role with the RFU."

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