World Rugby can confirm that Katie Sadleir, General Manager of Women’s Rugby, is to leave the organisation to join the Commonwealth Games Federation as Chief Executive Officer.

Katie joined World Rugby in 2016, collaborating with unions and regions to develop the transformational 2017-25 women’s strategic plan to accelerate the global development of women’s rugby and women in rugby at all levels, both on and off the pitch, within the sport.

At its halfway stage, the plan has driven transformational change and impactful progress across its pillars, including;

  • Competitions and high performance: Launch of the three-tier WXV competition, which will debut in 2023, launch of the innovative RWC 2021 Coaching Internship Programme and dedicated Women’s Coaching Toolkit. In addition, World Rugby became the first major sporting federation to adopt a gender-neutral naming approach of its major tournaments with RWC 2021, playing in 2022, to be the first major tournament to adopt the change.
  • Inspirational leadership: Increase of female representation on World Rugby decision-making structures to more than 30 per cent and awarding of 49 Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarships, propelling female leaders in union and World Rugby positions and across the game
  • Profile with impact: Launch of the ‘Women in Rugby’ brand identity and ‘Try and Stop Us’ and ‘Team Powered’ global marketing campaigns successfully increasing engagement and participation at a global level
  • Strategic sustainable investment partners: Appointment of Mastercard as the founding partner of the Women in Rugby programme with the partnership focusing exclusively in youth participation and education

With solid foundations in place and a clear, purpose-driven strategy supported by the rugby family, World Rugby looks ahead to implementing further exciting and transformational developments for women in rugby at all levels in the coming months in full partnership with unions and regions.

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “World Rugby would like to wish Katie every success in her exciting appointment as Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, a close partner of rugby.

“Katie leaves an impressive lasting legacy having successfully devised a transformational strategy to normalise, promote, grow and commercialise the women’s game. As we approach the halfway mark of the women’s strategic plan, a solid platform is in place for the sport to continue to press on and make impactful change that will continue to accelerate the development of women’s rugby and women in rugby globally, cementing its place as a leader in this priority area.

“Katie, supported by all our unions and regions, has created an unstoppable movement and momentum that the rugby family will continue to harness and push forward to ensure the phenomenal advancement of women’s rugby and women in rugby continues to flourish.”

Katie Sadleir, General Manager of Women’s Rugby, today said: “Almost five years ago I was invited to take up the role as General Manager of Women’s Rugby and during this time I have had the privilege of working with inspirational women and men around the world, all committed to accelerating and normalising the women’s rugby and women’s involvement in the game.  

“I believe collectively we have achieved some huge changes that have made a real impact for rugby globally. I’m especially proud of the leadership pipeline programmes that we have put in place for women both on and off the field as we strive, where ever possible, to make sure decisions are made with women, for women and girls.

“As I move to take on this new global leadership role I am extremely excited about the potential of the Commonwealth Sport movement. The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) have recently launched the year to go to the  Birmingham Games but sport is just the beginning, the CGF aims to ensure sport is a catalyst for positive change at a community, national and international level.”

World Rugby has already begun a recruitment process to replace Sadleir.