World Rugby Executive Gosper to leave role for NFL

World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper announced he is leaving the role to join the NFL. KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images

World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper will leave his role in Jan. 2021 to take over as the head of the National Football League (NFL) in Europe and the United Kingdom, rugby's global governing body announced on Wednesday.

Gosper leaves after almost nine years in the role, having ensured rugby sevens' return to the Olympic stage and delivering successful men's and women's World Cups during his tenure.

World Rugby added Gosper is set to embark on a new challenge at a time when the body looks to launch a new strategic plan and with preparation on track for World Cups in 2021 and 2023.

"It has been an absolute privilege to have worked with so many talented and dedicated rugby people... I've been supported by two excellent chairmen in Bill Beaumont and Bernard Lapasset along the way," Gosper said in a statement.

"It was a difficult decision to leave, but with a new ambitious strategic plan set to launch and strong foundations in place to drive the sport forward beyond the pandemic, the time is right for me to begin a new challenge."

Chief Operating Officer Alan Gilpin will take interim charge to ensure business continuity between Gosper's exit and the appointment of a new Chief Executive.