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World Rugby appoints IMG’s Poussau as GM for RWC 2023

World Rugby has appointed Michel Poussau as the General Manager for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Poussau joins the World Rugby team from sports, events and talent management agency IMG’s Tokyo office, where he was the executive director for the commercial rights programme for RWC 2019.

Based in Paris and reporting to World Rugby chief operating officer and RWC tournament director Alan Gilpin, Poussau will oversee the day-to-day management of the World Rugby presence in Paris and work with the RWC 2023 organising committee to ensure that the federation’s core hosting criteria and goals are reached.

Poussau brings strong French sports market expertise to the role – he was previously the deputy country manager for Uefa Euro 2016, brand director for football at agency Sportfive France (now part of Lagardère Sports and Entertainment), and IMG’s commercial operations manager at RWC 2007, which also took place in France.

Gilpin said in a statement: “Rugby World Cup 2023 is an exciting project that presents an enormous opportunity for rugby to further its impressive fan and participation growth around the world.

“Major event delivery is complex, operating within a finite timescale with multiple stakeholders. Successfully converting the collective objectives of World Rugby and the France 2023 organising committee requires someone with a proven ability and deep understanding of the rugby and French sporting landscapes.

“Michel has a proven track record in these key areas, knows Rugby World Cup intimately and we are sure that he will make a hugely positive impact in leading the World Rugby team on the ground in Paris, furthering the superb relationship with our friends at the organising committee and delivering a truly spectacular Rugby World Cup 2023.”

Poussau said: “I am delighted to be joining World Rugby at such an exciting time for the sport with record growth, interest and success, largely driven by the men’s Rugby World Cup.

“After a very special Japan 2019 tournament that raised the bar, I am excited and motivated in working in collaboration with our friends from the France 2023 organising committee, national and local governments and all stakeholders to assist in the delivery of an event that will set new standards on and off the field, engaging a nation, driving the sustainability agenda and inspire a new generation of rugby fans.”

2023 progress

Earlier last month, World Rugby concluded its first official coordination meetings in Paris since the hosting ball was passed from Japan 2019 to France 2023. It has signed host city agreements with Saint-Etienne, Lille, Nantes, Marseille, Nice and Toulouse.

The governing body launched a manifesto earlier this year setting out a blueprint for delivery, nationwide youth and community engagement, and sustainability, and inaugurated the RWC 2023 committee headquarters on Avenue du Coq in Paris.

Gilpin said the organisation had made strong progress in terms of revenue and budget for the 2023 RWC, including the commercial, ticketing, travel and hospitality programmes: “From the beginning, France set out to present the most sustainable and innovative approach to the Rugby World Cup, and now that they are the current hosts they are converting that promise into a reality. From the use of existing world-class venues to youth and community engagement, France 2023 is set to celebrate the future of our sport like never before.

“It is clear throughout a packed schedule of detailed review meetings that excellent progress is being made all round and the nation is engaged behind a tournament that will deliver a new blueprint for future Rugby World Cup hosting.W

France 2023 chief executive officer Claude Atcher added: “The organisation of the Rugby World Cup in France in 2023 is a great honour, a chance and a great responsibility for our country. We are very happy after our meeting with World Rugby.

“After the handover with Japan, it is now our turn. We start this four-year work cycle, that will take us to 2023, with motivation and determination. Progress achieved to date and our project are in tune with our ambition: sustainability, inclusion, social duty. RWC 2023 has to be an example, and a real contribution to the rugby and to the sport event organisation.”