The International Rugby League Federation (RLIF) has appointed its own chairman – England’s Super League chief Nigel Wood – as its new chief executive.
Wood’s appointment – to take effect later this year – was a “unanimous” choice with the RLIF electing not to test the external employment market.
Wood, a former RLIF board chairman, has been the chief executive of England’s Rugby Football League for a decade after becoming a board member 16 years ago.
His RLIF appointment was confirmed on Monday by RLIF deputy chairman John Grant, of Australia.
The unanimous decision was taken by the RLIF board following the successful staging of the Rugby League men’s and women’s World Cups in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea last November.
Wood will take up the office later in the year and will follow inaugural CEO David Collier into the role. He will also stand down as RLIF chairman. Nominations will open in February for a replacement.
“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Nigel to take over as the executive lead for the RLIF at this time,” Grant said.
“Nigel is a 10-year CEO with a proven track record as a rugby league administrator of the highest standard, is respected on both sides of the world, has an intimate understanding of the complex relationship between domestic and international rugby league, and provides a fast start in the role at a time when capitalising on the momentum created by the 2017 World Cups is critical.”
Grant said the board’s nominations committee – comprising representatives from Australia, New Zealand and Europe – were instructed to take “a rigorous process with Nigel as its internal candidate to confirm his willingness and suitability to take the role.”
“Failing this, it was then to undertake an external process. The committee was swayed not only by Nigel’s clear experience but also by his deep knowledge and sincere passion for international rugby league.
“Its recommendation that he was the right person to take the international game forward at the very exciting but challenging time was adopted unanimously by the full board.”
New Zealand-based senior RLIF director John Bishop, a nominations committee member, said he had worked with Wood “for two World Cup cycles now and numerous international tournaments and have seen first-hand his endeavours for the international game”.
“The next few years are vital for international rugby league and the board believe Nigel is undoubtedly the right person to be bring focus and energy to our plans,” Bishop said.
Wood said he felt “honoured and humbled” at his appointment.
“International Rugby League is a wonderful and essential aspect of our sport as the images, testimonials and emotions of the recent World Cups have once again demonstrated.
“I believe these are exciting times as more and more people recognise the role of international rugby league has in developing the whole sport.
“New countries and investors are attracted to our sport and I look forward to working with all parties, clubs and other key stakeholders to ensure that we give players, supporters and commercial and broadcast partners the most compelling international calendar that we possibly can.”
Wood. who has a MBA degree in business administration, played reserve grade rugby league for English club Huddersfield and was a former chief executive of the Halifax Blue Sox Super League club.