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Ritchie returns to rugby union with Premiership role

Premiership Rugby, the organising body of England’s top division of club rugby union, has appointed Ian Ritchie as its new independent, non-executive chairman.

Ritchie (pictured) previously spent five years working for England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU), and prior to that served as chief executive of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which organises the Wimbledon Championships. He has also acted as a non-executive director at the English Football League and London’s Wembley Stadium.

Ritchie, who retired from his RFU role last summer, was elected unanimously by the Premiership Rugby board of directors for a two-year term, which will start in April.

Semore Kurdi, current chairman and owner of the Newcastle Falcons, said: “We are in a period of significant domestic and international growth for the club game, with this weekend’s big Aviva Premiership Rugby matches just one example, as they will be seen in some 200 countries around the world.

“Ian will undoubtedly add to our ability to realise the full potential of the league. I have enjoyed my time in the chair and I look forward to working with him through this next phase.”

Ritchie added: “Premiership Rugby has become one of the foremost competitions in professional sport and I’m pleased to be taking the chair at this time. Clearly, the partnership with the RFU is central to the success of both club and country and I look forward to helping ensure its success.

“I take over the chairmanship with Premiership Rugby in great shape and I would like to record my appreciation of Semore’s role over the last two years in the continued success of Aviva Premiership Rugby. I look forward to helping build on this.”

During his time at the RFU, Ritchie helped oversee England’s successful hosting of the 2015 Rugby World Cup and was also involved in the appointment of Eddie Jones as coach of the national team.