World Rugby has announced that Sally Horrox will join the organisation as Director of Women’s Rugby in early May.

The announcement comes ahead of the Rugby World Cup 2021 Final Qualification Tournament decider in Dubai on Friday when Colombia will play Scotland for the 12th and final place at the showcase event in New Zealand later this year.

Horrox will bring with her an impressive wealth of management and board level experience in sport and business and will be responsible for World Rugby’s transformational Women in Rugby 2017-25 plan, which was refreshed in late 2021 after huge initial success.

Horrox has a proven track record in transforming women’s sports. A former non-executive director of England Netball, advisor to UEFA, international football federations and The FA, she has played a leading role in the success of the Vitality Netball Super League and the FA Women’s Super League, with her deep sport, commercial, legal insights and knowledge.

Horrox joins a restructured Strategy and Communications department within World Rugby under Chief Strategy Officer Mihir Warty. She will lead the Women in Rugby team, collaborating with specialist colleagues in the High Performance, Competitions, Participation and Revenue and Fan Engagement teams, as well as member unions, regional associations, and a range of partners to accelerate women in rugby on and off the field.

Horrox said: “I’m delighted and hugely privileged to be joining World Rugby to lead what is regarded as the most significant area of growth for the game globally. With increased investment, two World Cups this year and the launch of WXV, a new annual women’s global competition in 2023, it is an incredibly exciting time for the sport.

“I am committed to accelerating the development of women in rugby at every level, and to promoting player welfare and gender equity in all that we do.”

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin added: “We are delighted to be welcoming someone of Sally’s calibre to the organisation to oversee an area of the sport that has the greatest participation, fan, commercial and leadership potential.

“Sally is well known in the sports industry for getting results and brings with her considerable commercial, legal and strategic acumen and a deep understanding of the community and elite sports environments on an international basis. She knows how to successfully develop women’s sport and has a proven track record in major events, developing new competition structures and restructuring commercial rights.”

World Rugby Chief Strategy Officer Mihir Warty said: “Even within a very competitive pool of candidates, Sally stood out for her experience in women’s sport, passion for driving a movement, and ability to affect change within international federations.”

Editors’ notes: Horrox will step down in April from her role as joint Managing Partner of Y Sport, the international sports and brand consultancy which she co-founded in 2015 with Sally Hancock.