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Governance

Governance, laws and decision-making

Since 2015, World Rugby has undertaken wide-ranging reform of its governance structures, creating a dynamic, diverse environment with wider union and regional representation and independent skills-based voices on its decision-making bodies. World Rugby constantly looks at evolving its governance following best practices and launched an independent review in 2020 chaired by Sir Hugh Robertson.  

World Rugby Council

The Council is World Rugby’s highest decision-making body and is chaired by Sir Bill Beaumont, the World Rugby Chairman who sits as an independent. 

It votes on key decisions over such issues as the hosting rights and competition structure for the Rugby World Cup and has the power to admit or expel unions from its membership.

The most significant changes to Council came in November 2017 when World Rugby announced that the number of people able to sit on Council would increase from 32 with the 17 new members to be women, aligning with its ground-breaking Women’s Plan 2017-25 and its objective to accelerate the development of women in rugby on and off the field of play and further gender equality at all levels of the game. 

There are currently 52 members of the World Rugby Council.

World Rugby Executive Committee (EXCO)

The Executive Committee performs a management role for the Council and is responsible for framing and overseeing implementation of World Rugby’s strategic plan and application of policy decisions.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont, Vice-Chairman Bernard Laporte and Chief Executive Alan Gilpin sit on the Executive Committee alongside seven elected members and two independents.

Associated Committees

In addition to Council and the Executive Committee, there are a number of committees that regularly meet to discuss a range of topics affecting the game.

In October 2020, as part of ongoing governance reform, World Rugby announced new interim committee structures which included greater global player, coach, independent and female representation.

Laws and regulation

Rugby rules officially allowing running the ball were first introduced in 1841 and these have evolved markedly over time to meet the changing face of the game. 

The Laws of the game are maintained by World Rugby. Sometimes World Rugby trials changes to the laws, before deciding whether those changes should be implemented on a global basis and accepted into full law.

Any amendment of the World Rugby's bye-laws, regulations or the laws of the game requires approval of three-quarters of the World Rugby Council.