RFU boss to retire

by AFP

Ian Ritchie, who as chief executive of English rugby's ruling body the Rugby Football Union (RFU) oversaw the hosting of the 2015 World Cup, said Wednesday he will retire.

The 63-year-old Englishman, who took the RFU job in 2012 after being chief executive of the All England Lawn Club responsible for organising Wimbledon, said he would leave at the end of the summer with many happy memories.

"It has been an honour and a privilege to lead the RFU," the former television executive said in a statement.

"I'm proud to have been part of the rugby family, working with so many talented, passionate and committed teams at every level of the game and of the Union."

Ritchie, who negotiated the Professional Game Agreement with PRL this year, worth over £200million (232m euros, $258m) to Premiership club rugby in England over the next eight years, received unstinting praise from his employer.

"Ian has been an outstanding CEO," said RFU Chairman Andy Cosslett.

Ritchie oversaw the hiring of two vastly different head coaches of the senior team -- Stuart Lancaster and Eddie Jones who enjoyed contrasting fortunes.

England have won successive Six Nations titles under Jones -- including the 2016 Grand Slam -- after the combative Australian replaced Lancaster.

Lancaster succeeded in rehabilitating the image of the team off the pitch -- which had been badly damaged during Martin Johnson's reign -- but also oversaw the catastrophic first round exit at the 2015 World Cup leading to his resignation.