World Rugby has announced the appointment of Richard Heaselgrave as Chief Revenue and Fan Engagement Officer, underscoring the international federation’s mission to advance rugby’s global market footprint and appeal by making it more relevant and accessible in line with its ambitious new strategic plan.
Vastly experienced, with an in-depth knowledge of the global sports and major brand commercial, marketing and fan-engagement environment, Heaselgrave will begin his new role in September.
In line with the continued advancement of World Rugby’s organisational structures to effectively support the key pillars of the strategic plan, Heaselgrave will have overarching responsibility for all of World Rugby’s commercial, broadcast, marketing and digital activities to deliver an integrated revenue and fan growth strategy, including focusing on new opportunities in the digital space.
With a proven track record in business growth, Heaselgrave previously served as Chief Revenue and Experience Officer for Tennis Australia, trebling the Australian Open’s business in five years by converting new revenue opportunities. Prior to that, he successfully grew revenue for the English Football League as Chief Commercial Officer and was responsible for growth of the NBA’s commercial activities in Europe as Vice-President of Business Development.
Heaselgrave has most recently been advising rights holders, brands and agencies as founder and Chief Executive of Fourth Consulting.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “In a rapidly-evolving and highly-competitive sports industry, it’s vital we look at our businesses differently and find new ways to continue to break new markets, attract new fans and grow revenues for reinvestment in the sport’s future growth.
“This new role, as part of a wider advancement of our organisational structures, reflects that need and perfectly positions World Rugby not only to exploit new revenue streams for the benefit of the game at all levels, but to make good our mission to make rugby more attractive and accessible for more people.
“Richard’s extensive international experience and focus on revenue growth through diversification and digital innovation will help us identify and convert new opportunities, while at the same time continuing to develop our current revenue streams.
“We have built strong teams in the commercial, digital, broadcast and brand areas in the last three years under Chief Commercial Officer Tom Hill and departing Chief Marketing Officer Marissa Pace. Richard will now continue this work with Tom and our talented teams to build on World Rugby's continued growth in these areas.”
A former professional rugby player with English club Rotherham, Heaselgrave is looking forward to contributing to an exciting period of change and growth in the game by helping the sport to realise its commercial potential across its events, platforms and assets.
Heaselgrave said: “As a lifelong rugby fan I am honoured to have the chance to join World Rugby. This is such a dynamic time of change in global sport, with media, digital and experiential worlds evolving so quickly. I am looking forward to being part of the team as we head into this exciting new era.”