World Gone Mad: Nigel Melville to Chair Premiership Sporting Commission

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Former USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville, with former Chair Will Chang<
LONDON, UKPremiership Rugby can confirm the launch of the newly-formed Sporting Commission to help transform and strengthen its governance.

This new group, chaired by Nigel Melville, features four leading independent figures from the world of sport and business.

Senior football executive Jane Purdon, Ministry of Justice board member Mark Rawlinson, portfolio Non-Executive Director Carys Williams, as well as former England and Northampton Saints captain Tom Wood have all been appointed.

Premership Rugby chief executive Simon Massie-Taylor and Rugby Director Phil Winstanley complete the seven-person panel.

As part of its remit the Sporting Commission will now rule over matters such as the season structure, Premiership Rugby regulations and player loading, amongst others.

The Sporting Commission will have full delegated authority from the PRL Board to decide on matters relating to sporting and regulatory issues – as well as impose sanctions in accordance with Premiership Rugby regulations.

Melville, who is also Chairman of the Premiership Rugby Investor Board, said: “I am delighted to welcome Jane, Mark, Carys and Tom onto the Sporting Commission alongside Simon and Phil.

“Putting together this innovative new group has been possible thanks to the efforts and support of our Premiership Rugby clubs.

“Our goal has always been to strengthen our governance and make internal decision-making more agile, whilst also bringing about greater independence to any contentious issues.”

Premiership Rugby CEO, Massie-Taylor added: “Launching the Sporting Commission is a landmark moment for Premiership Rugby as we transform our ways of working.

“Improving our governance structures with independent thinking and scrutiny is key to strong foundations and our future success.

“And I would like thank Jane, Mark, Carys and Tom for agreeing to be part of Premiership Rugby for this crucial next period.

“Having already met as a group, it is clear that the energy and expertise of our independent experts will help Premiership Rugby deliver change.”

About the Sporting Commission

The objectives of the Sporting Commission are to ensure that decision making on sporting and regulatory matters:

Operates in the best interests of the league as a whole and independent from the Clubs

Upholds the values of integrity, openness, and accountability

Promotes long term growth of the league for the benefit of fans, players, commercial partners, clubs, investors and potential investors

Balances interests including sporting integrity, sustainability, reputation and commercial growth

All members will have one vote and decisions taken by majority vote (4 out of 7).

The Commission will meet eight times per year or such other frequency as the Chair shall determine.

The Commission will provide a quarterly update to the PRL Investor Board.

Biographies of independent members of the Sporting Commission:

Jane Purdon is a director of Women in Football, having been its CEO until December 2021. She chairs the Professional Game Academy Audit Company, a joint venture between the Premier League, The FA and EFL to support the development of the world’s leading football academy system and provide quality assurance to all club academies in the male professional game. A previous Club Secretary and Solicitor at Sunderland AFC, in 2005 she joined the Premier League and rose through the ranks to become Director of Governance.
Jane joined UK Sport as Head of Governance and Leadership in 2015, working with the UK’s Olympic and Paralympic programmes.

Mark Rawlinson has been the Lead Non-Executive at the Ministry of Justice since 2018 where he provides constructive challenge at the Departmental Board, as well as being a sounding board for the Permanent Secretary. Mark also has more than 30 years of commercial advisory experience in the private sector – from 2016 to 2021 as Chairman of UK Investment Banking at Morgan Stanley and, for over 25 years prior to that, as a leading corporate partner at the international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Carys Williams is a portfolio Non-Executive Director and currently a Lay Member of the House of Commons Committee on Standards, the Welsh Government Board and IBAS. She is also Chair of Age UK East Sussex and a Non-Executive Director of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. The majority of her professional career has been spent as a Senior Executive in financial services working for the Financial Ombudsman Service and Lloyds Banking Group.

Tom Wood skippered Northampton Saints to the Premiership title in 2014 as well as the Amlin Challenge Cup in the same season.

The forward played more than 240 games for the club and another 64 at Worcester Warriors, where he came through the academy.
He is also a former England captain who represented his country 50 times – playing for three different head coaches at Test level.

Wood retired from playing in 2022 and is the co-founder of Waller and Wood Woodworks. He is an accredited tree surgeon and specialises in creating bespoke furniture.

Premiership Rugby is the organisation that manages the top league in English club rugby – Gallagher Premiership Rugby.

It acts for its shareholder clubs in all major commercial and strategic negotiations with media and sponsorship partners of the league, as well as with other rugby governing bodies.

Premiership Rugby is also responsible for key areas of governance of the top-flight competitions, including the Salary Cap Framework, Minimum Standards Criteria and Code of Conduct, as well as managing the Gallagher Premiership Rugby competition and the Premiership Rugby Cup, both of which are televised live exclusively by BT Sport.

Partners for the 2022-23 season are: Gallagher, Defender, London Pride, Ocean Outdoor, Funding Circle, The Famous Grouse, Ticketmaster, Gilbert, and BT Sport.

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Matt McCarthy comes to from their partner in the USA, RWU and MTM feature a stable of diverse contributors, with coverage that is both serious and with a wink. Find him on twitter: @Matt_McCarthy00