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Kevin Potts to take over from Philip Browne as IRFU opts for continuity

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Kevin Potts is the new Chief Executive of the IRFU

Kevin Potts is the new Chief Executive of the IRFU

SPORTSFILE

Kevin Potts is the new Chief Executive of the IRFU

Former Leinster flanker Kevin Potts will replace the retiring Philip Browne as the IRFU's chief executive in January.

Potts has worked for the union since 2005 and has been its chief operating officer since 2015.

He was the lead on Ireland's ill-fated bid to land the 2023 World Cup, but is a highly regarded figure in rugby circles and, with the game headed for choppy financial waters yet again as the Omicron variant claims matches and results in reduced crowds, the IRFU has opted to appoint a figure who knows the organisation well after what it describes as an "extensive, international recruitment process".

As a player, Potts was unlucky not to win an Ireland cap on the back of a strong career with St Mary's and Leinster.

A chartered accountant who qualified while working for KPMG, he worked for Deutsche International, BNP Paribas Fund Services Ireland and the company now known as BNY Mellon before joining the union.

"This is a huge honour for me. Rugby brings people together, on and off the field; and is a topic of conversation the length and breadth of the country, because people are passionate about it," he said in an IRFU statement.

"Clearly the immediate challenges will be around the Six Nations Championships in these times of ongoing Covid uncertainty, the completion of the critically important reviews into our women’s game, and the continued support of our provinces and clubs in an ever-changing environment.

"Rugby has always played a central role in my life, both as a player and administrator, therefore, player welfare and the development of the game will be central to my decision making.

"I want to thank, and acknowledge the leadership of, Philip Browne over almost three decades at the fore of Irish Rugby. Philip is one of the most respected CEOs in Ireland and across world rugby and it is an honour to succeed him."

With crowds currently restricted to 5,000 in the Irish state until January 31, the union is bracing itself for another Six Nations without full houses which would deprive it of its main source of income.

Also, Potts must quickly get a handle on the women's rugby issue after last week's descent into civil war.

It is thought that he was a key influencer in the union taking a more conciliatory approach later in the week and his handling of the dispute will be an early challenge.

Union president Des Kavanagh welcomed the appointment.

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"I congratulate Kevin on his appointment and wish him every success in this latest phase of his career. Kevin has come through a particularly rigorous recruitment process to achieve this appointment as Chief Executive," he said.

"Throughout the process he has displayed, in abundance, all the attributes required to lead the IRFU in an ever-evolving environment, reflecting the significant commercial and societal changes facing the game.

"Kevin has been a very strong Chief Operating Officer for the IRFU and been a central figure in many of the Union’s key projects over the past number of years, including most recently, oversight of the IRFU’s successful negotiations with CVC as part of the Pro14 (URC) and 6 Nations transactions, in addition to the extensive remit he oversees across the organisation."


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