• Expanded Council convenes in Dublin for annual meeting
  • 13 new members (11 female) join World Rugby’s highest decision-making body, bringing the total to 43
  • Expansion follows landmark governance reform announced in November 2017

On an historic day for World Rugby, 13 new union and regional association representatives have been welcomed onto an expanded World Rugby Council, the sport’s highest decision-making body.

The new representatives, who joined Council for its annual meeting in Dublin on Wednesday after being appointed by their respective unions and regional associations, are:

Asia – Ada Milby
Australia – Raelene Castle and Cameron Clyne
England – Deborah Griffin
Europe – Veronika Muehlhofer
France – Brigitte Jugla
Ireland – Susan Carty
Japan – Keiko Asami
New Zealand – Dr Deb Robinson
Oceania – Cathy Wong
Scotland – Lesley Thomson
South America - Sebastian Piñeyrua
Wales – Julie Paterson

The meeting in Dublin was the first under landmark governance reform, spearheaded by World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont and passed by the decision-making body in November 2017. That reform saw World Rugby increase the number of people who may sit on Council from 32 to 49, with the 17 new representatives to be women.

So far 11 women have been appointed, with an additional six women expected to join by November’s interim meeting, representing 35 per cent of the Council. This aligns with the objectives of the ground-breaking World Rugby Women's Plan 2017-25 to accelerate women in rugby on and off the field of play and further gender equality at all levels of the sport.

Addressing the Council, Beaumont said: "I would like to warmly welcome our newest Council members and thank you not only for your passion and commitment to rugby, but for the expertise, skill and energy that you bring to the governance of the global game.

“Balanced decision-making is vital for the growth and health of our sport. We are committed to leading the acceleration of the development of women in rugby on and off the field in line with our 2017-25 Women’s Plan and believe this opens the door to even greater representation of women on Council and across rugby in the future.

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“It is our strong desire to be a global leader in sport and we are advancing an inclusive environment, where women have equal opportunities in all areas, are integrated in strategy, plans and structures and are making highly-valued contributions to participation, performance and leadership. Today marks a big leap forward in that ambition.”

The remaining six seats will be determined by regional associations and unions who have been granted an additional Council spot under the reform but have yet to complete their internal board approval processes.

At its meeting, Council received a detailed update on global player welfare advances, including rugby's evidence-based approach to injury-prevention.

Council was also updated on strong Rugby World Cup 2019 hosting preparation progress with exceptional demand for tickets from domestic and international fans with a little under 500 days to go. Council also considered hosting progress for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco as the USA prepares to host its first Rugby World Cup event.

At its meeting in Dublin on Tuesday, the Executive Committee approved the appointment of Richard Sapias (Oceania Rugby) as the new Chair of the Regional Committee in line with the rotation principle. The committee also approved the appointment of Ada Milby (Asia Rugby), Veronika Muehlhofer (Rugby Europe), Sebastian Piñeyrua (Sudamérica Rugby) and Cathy Wong (Oceania Rugby) to an expanded Regional Committee.

Serge Simon (France) chaired his first Women's Advisory Committee meeting, where updates were given on the five workstreams of the 2017-25 accelerating the global development of women in rugby strategy.

The Rugby World Cup Board welcomed Steve Brown (England) and Steve Tew (New Zealand) for their first meeting on Wednesday.

The full World Rugby Council comprises: Bill Beaumont (Chairman), Agustín Pichot (Vice-Chairman – Argentina), John Jeffrey, Mark Dodson and Lesley Thomson (Scotland), Pat Whelan, John O'Driscoll and Susan Carty (Ireland), Gareth Davies, Anthony Buchanan and Julie Paterson (Wales), Jonathan Webb, Stephen Brown and Deborah Griffin (England), Brett Robinson, Raelene Castle and Cameron Clyne (Australia), Mark Robinson, Steve Tew and Dr Deb Robinson (New Zealand), Mark Alexander and Jurie Roux (South Africa), Bernard Laporte, Serge Simon and Brigitte Jugla (France), Pat Parfrey (Canada) - Tim Powers attending this meeting, Alfredo Gavazzi and Nino Sacca (Italy), Ichiro Kono and Asami Keiko (Japan), George Nijaradze (Georgia), Marcelo Rodriguez (Argentina), Alin Petrache (Romania), Bob Latham (USA Rugby), Octavian Morariu and Veronika Muehlhofer (Rugby Europe), Trevor Gregory and Ada Milby (Asia Rugby), Abdelaziz Bougja (Rugby Africa), Richard Sapias and Cathy Wong (Oceania Rugby), Dennis Dwyer (Rugby Americas North), Sebastian Piñeyrua (Sudamérica Rugby).