• Wendy Luhabe and Mervyn Davies to bring a wealth of skills-based experience to World Rugby Executive Committee
  • New Executive Committee appointed under next chair Bill Beaumont
  • Appointments key component of new World Rugby governance model

World Rugby has welcomed the appointment of the first independent directors, Wendy Luhabe and Mervyn Davies, onto its newly-appointed Executive Committee.

The pair will bring a wealth of major global business experience to the expanded Executive Committee, which was elected at the annual meeting of Council in Dublin on Wednesday and will take office from 1 July under the next Chairman Bill Beaumont. 

The full Executive Committee is: World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont, Vice-Chairman Agustín Pichot, Chief Executive Brett Gosper, John Jeffrey (Scotland), Brett Robinson (Australia), Pierre Camou (France), Bob Latham (Rugby Americas North), Mark Robinson (New Zealand), Pat Whelan (Ireland); Oregan Hoskins (South Africa), Wendy Luhabe (Independent) and Mervyn Davies (Independent).

Luhabe, from South Africa, has more than 26 years of experience as a non-executive director in diverse industries and public sector companies, 24 years of experience as a social entrepreneur and 10 years of experience in marketing management. Her extensive experience covers a diverse spectrum across consumer, telecommunications, industrial development, private equity, country brand development and education. Luhabe is chair and founder of the Women Private Equity Fund, South Africa’s first private equity fund for women, and has held governance roles with Vodacom, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the International Marketing Council (IMC) and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.  

Welsh-born Davies is one of the most experienced executives and non-executives in the United Kingdom and has experience operating at a high level across a range of industries. Following more than 20 years working in the banking sector, including as chairman and chief executive of Standard Chartered plc, he was appointed a Minister of State within the British Government covering Trade, Investment, Small Business and Infrastructure.  In 2002 Davies was awarded a CBE for his services to the financial sector in Hong Kong, and was made a member of the British House of Lords in 2009.

The appointments are central to a new governance model that sees the composition and remit of World Rugby’s Executive Committee extended to deliver an even more modern, dynamic and streamlined governance structure. It will also ensure the Executive Committee benefits from an independent voice through the addition of the experienced and highly-skilled independent directors.

Other revisions to the body include: 

  • All World Rugby standing committees and advisory groups to report to the Executive Committee
  • A new dedicated Nominations Committee to make recommendations to the Executive Committee regarding persons to be considered for membership of any World Rugby Committee or Working Group 
  • ​The Nominations Committee will be made up of the two independent members from the Executive Committee, the Chairman of World Rugby and an elected member of the Executive Committee 
  • One of the independent members will chair the Nominations Committee
  • Dynamic and streamlined environment will allow the Executive Committee to address any urgent decisions between Council meetings. This now includes Laws and Regulations of the game

Luhabe and Davies’ inclusion on the Executive Committee follows an extensive global appointment process led by an independent nominations committee chaired by Peter Sutherland, a former European Commissioner and former Attorney General of Ireland.

World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “World Rugby is delighted to be welcoming Wendy Luhabe and Mervyn Davies onto the newly-appointed Executive Committee. Both bring with them a wealth of major international corporate experience and will significantly contribute to and enhance what will be an even more agile Executive Committee.

“These robust reforms, coupled with the impending launch of a revised strategic plan, and World Rugby's vibrant and inclusive new brand, reflect our commitment to further the sport's reach and engage and inspire new participants.”

Incoming World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “These are exciting and important times for World Rugby and rugby generally. I would like to congratulate the newly-elected Executive Committee members and welcome our first independent directors. I look forward to chairing this important group and collaborating with my new colleagues on this dynamic and agile decision-making body to strengthen and advance the game.”

Luhabe said: “It is an honour to be joining the World Rugby Executive Committee at such an exciting time for the sport. I am looking forward to combining my broad business and education skills to play a full role in supporting my fellow executive committee members in shaping decisions for the betterment of the game.”

Davies added: “World Rugby is a modern and dynamic organisation that is reaching and inspiring participants and fans in record numbers. In being appointed to the Executive Committee, I will use my experience gained in commerce and government over many years to ensure that the sport continues to thrive and be relevant to all as it enters an exciting and ground-breaking period.”