Preparations for England’s Rugby World Cup 2025 hosting have reached another significant milestone with the appointment of Sarah Massey as Managing Director of the Local Operating Company (LOC), a joint venture between World Rugby and the RFU.
Massey’s appointment follows the announcement of Gill Whitehead as Independent Chair of the Board of Directors for a tournament that has significant backing from the UK Government and has ambitions of being the biggest and best women’s Rugby World Cup to date, supercharging the reach, impact and growth of women in rugby worldwide.
Steeped in sport’s leadership, global event strategy and planning experience, Massey’s impressive track record reflects the ambitions of a tournament that aims to change the game for women and girls in rugby, making the sport more relevant and accessible to new audiences. She has operated at the top end of sport for more than 30 years in roles across Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby, cricket and hockey World Cups as well as international and national sport governing bodies.
Massey joins following her role as CEO of the acclaimed World Athletics Championship Oregon22. It was an event that smashed broadcast, digital and fan experience records and set high standards for governance, environmental and social sustainability for future editions. This was preceded by seven years at the International Hockey Federation as Events, Marketing and Strategy Director, at a time which saw exponential growth for the sport, as well as working with the International Tennis Federation leading their business strategy planning and development of their ‘Advantage All’ equality strategy.
With preparations advancing at pace, Massey will join the organising company in May 2023 as a number of key foundational strategies are completed, including the city and venue selection process, ticketing, domestic and international legacy strategy finalisation.
Massey said: “Rugby has always been a big part of my life and a catalyst for my career in sport. It began working for the Rugby Football Union and led me into working on a transformative Rugby World Cup 1995. It is that same opportunity to change the game, with women and girls at the forefront of World Rugby and RFU’s growth strategies, that really attracted me to this role. Working as a unified LOC, in full partnership with World Rugby, the RFU, UK Sport and the host cities, we have the opportunity to achieve something very special, impactful and that will ultimately take the women’s game and rugby more broadly to the next level.”
Independent Chair Whitehead added: “On behalf of the Board, I am delighted to be welcoming Sarah Massey to the Rugby World Cup 2025 team. Attracting someone of Sarah’s calibre, experience, expertise and insights from a host of major sports events is another demonstration of intent for a Rugby World Cup that will be so much more than a world-class event.
“As an inspirer, motivator and accelerant, England 2025 will change the game, attracting new fans and participants to the sport, championing equality and changing the game for a new generation of incredible women in rugby.”