NEW YORK, NY – In a whirlwind week of monumental moments in American rugby, USA Rugby Board Chairman Will Chang adds another defining moment, announcing the end of his tenure. This follows the announcement the CEO Dan Payne is leaving earlier than expected to take a position with World Rugby and the debut weekend of Major League Rugby. Adding to the drama is an article in The Daily Mail outlining the potential end of Rugby International Marketing (RIM) and the cancelling of the Wales vs South Africa match.
Here are the announcements re Will Chang and Dan Payne, respectively:
USA Rugby Board of Directors Chairman, Will Chang, today announced his intention to retire from USA Rugby after the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018. Chang joined the Board of Directors in 2012 and was influential in earning the bid for the World Rugby event.
Chang’s remarks after announcing his stepping away: “I lead the USA Rugby Bid Committee to bring the Rugby World Cup Sevens to the United States for the first time and I am committed to delivering a fantastic experience for rugby fans from around the world, in my home town and stadium.”
“I see similarities to when the US hosted the FIFA World Cup here in 1994. That event was the catalyst for the growth of soccer in this country. Similarly, the Rugby World Cup Sevens is the epitome of opportunity this country has to propel the sport of rugby for explosive growth.”
Chang began his rugby career at the age of 14 during his schooling at Millfield School in Somerset, England. His playing career continued during his studies at Harvard, where he played wing-forward. Upon graduation, he moved onto club rugby with the Palo Alto Rugby Club in California.
“Will Chang has been involved at a high level with many sports, but his first love is rugby,” said World Rugby Executive Committee Member, Bob Latham, “It will be a fitting conclusion to his time on the USA Rugby Board of Directors if, of all the moments he has experienced at AT&T Park, the Rugby World Cup Sevens in July is the most memorable. I encourage the USA Rugby community to come together to make that happen.”
“I believe I can contribute more to the growth of rugby by being a provider of capital and lending my sport business acumen, than being part of the national governing board.” continued Chang. “I have invested in many professional sports teams both here and abroad, and have investments in various sports properties and produced feature films in sports. I have had many opportunities to invest in various rugby related businesses but due to my fiduciary obligation to USA Rugby, it was my responsibility to pass on those endeavors. By leaving the USA Rugby Board, I will be free to pursue those rugby related business opportunities and support this game in a new capacity.”
Chang concluded, “Despite my stepping away, I care deeply about the wellbeing of USA Rugby and I will be available to help in anyway when called upon.”
World Rugby today announced the appointment of Dan Payne as Chief Executive Officer of Rugby Americas. Following his tenure as CEO with USA Rugby, Payne looks to continue his aspiration of growing rugby, in a new arena. To ensure continuity through the transition, USA Rugby will be naming an Interim CEO in the very near future as the executive search for a permanent Chief Executive Officer continues.
Under the presidency of Agustín Pichot, Rugby Americas is the driving-force behind the advancement of community and elite rugby within the Americas, and comprises representatives of World Rugby Regional Associations, Rugby Americas North and Sudamerica Rugby.
“I’m extremely excited to work with and carry out the vision Agustín has implemented in progressing the game across the Americas,” said Payne, “His passion is unparalleled, and it was a leading force in my decision to assume this role. Passion, regardless of the endeavor, inspires me. Gus’s happens to be centered around our great game. Receiving the baton from Tom Jones and upholding the standard in which he served the game for such a committed tenure is an honor.””
The appointment comes at a time when rugby in the Americas is experiencing record growth and reflects World Rugby’s strategic mission to accelerate participation, commercial and fan development across North and South America – home to more than 2.3 million players, affiliated to World Rugby via 23 national unions.
Payne will be the senior World Rugby employee across North and South America having primary responsibility for the growth of the game, working in partnership with the regional associations to strengthen professional and domestic competitions, further the reach of development programs and convert new commercial opportunities.
World Rugby Vice-Chairman and Rugby Americas President Agustín Pichot said, “We are delighted to appoint Dan Payne as Chief Executive Officer of Rugby Americas. These are exciting times for the growth of the sport, and Dan’s knowledge and expertise of rugby in the Americas, proven-track record with USA rugby and passion for the development of the game, make him perfectly suited for this important role.”
World Rugby Chief Executive Officer Brett Gosper added, “Dan will enable us to further strengthen our strategic activities in partnership with Rugby Americas North and Sudamerica Rugby to assist our unions in growing and sustaining a thriving game across the Americas.”
Payne concluded, “This role affords me the opportunity to further drive the aspirations I have for growing rugby. We must continue to lean on partnership across our member countries to push the game forward. The next 90 days will be very exciting for the United States and the Americas as a whole.
I’m excited to continue supporting Major League Rugby in the its inaugural season and usher in a milestone event with the Rugby World Cup Sevens this July. We will put 100,000+ fans through the turnstiles at AT&T Park in San Francisco and that’s something the entire American rugby community can be a part of and take pride in.”
When asked what charge he will leave USA Rugby and the American rugby community, Payne referred to an address from Pichot following the 2017 World Rugby General Assembly, “Let’s continue to strengthen the avenues our community has ahead of us. From administrators to coaches, to players, to volunteers; keep the beliefs of rugby strong and understand that no matter your role, you are a value to the game.”