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World Rugby chairman standing down to drive Paris 2024 bid

World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset has confirmed he will not seek re-election in May and will instead focus on his role as co-chairman of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games bid committee.

The Frenchman was head of the organising committee for the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France before being elected for his first term as chairman of what was then known as the International Rugby Board (IRB). He was re-elected in 2011 and is credited with overseeing record participation in the sport and commercial growth during his two terms in office at the global governing body of rugby union, which included the 2014 rebrand to World Rugby.

Lapasset said: “Rugby has never been healthier and I am so proud of what we have achieved in growing the game around the globe, securing rugby sevens on the Olympic programme, staging wonderful tournaments, including Rugby World Cup 2015, taking the women's game to new levels and properly addressing key issues such as governance and player welfare.

“I am proud of my time at the helm of World Rugby and excited by what lies ahead for our sport, including the debut of rugby sevens at Rio 2016. My decision will allow me to stay connected to the game I love while now devoting more time to my role as co-chairman of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid.

“We are now entering into the heart of the campaign and nothing would give me greater pleasure than bringing the Games back to Paris ‎for a real centenary celebration of Olympism in 2024. I hope to have the honour of being part of a successful bid from my home country, something that would be so special for me personally and for the people of France.”

World Rugby’s member unions have been invited to submit nominations for the position of chairman and/or vice-chairman by the closing date of March 12. The election will take place at the Annual Meeting of Council in Dublin, Ireland in May.

Paris is competing against Budapest, Los Angeles and Rome for the right to stage the 2024 Games. The election of the host city will take place in September 2017 at the IOC Session in Lima, Peru.

Tony Estanguet, co-chairman of the Paris 2024 Bid Committee, said: “Bernard’s vast experience presiding over rugby’s most successful era is acknowledged around the world and this expertise in global sport and leading a successful international federation are important assets for Paris 2024. This announcement is a great boost for our bid and I look forward to working closely with Bernard to showcase our city’s unique Games vision and compelling message as the campaign continues to gather pace.”