The Six Nations is arguably the biggest tournament in world rugby and as of this week, it is looking for a new leader to take it to the next stage of its development.
John Feehan stepped down from his role as CEO of Six Nations and British & Irish Lions with immediate effect last Friday and an announcement about the process to succeed him is expected shortly.
Feehan has been at the helm of both organisations for 16 years. In that time, he has overseen the unprecedented growth of the Six Nations Championship and has also presided over four successful British & Irish Lions Tours including two tours to New Zealand.
The last year in relation to the Six Nations was challenging with the search for a new global sponsor coming up short and a one year deal being agreed instead with Nat West.
The first priority of the new person coming into the role will be to secure whether that can be extended longer term or whether the search continues.
“After 16 wonderful years with Six Nations and the British & Irish Lions, I feel it is time for a change,” said Feehan making his announcement.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute working in both roles however the timing is now right for me and I am ready to pursue other interests.”
“I depart safe in the knowledge that both organisations are in a significantly better place than when I started, and indeed both have a very bright future ahead. I would like to acknowledge the fantastic people I have worked with over the years and look forward to watching rugby as a passionate supporter for many years to come.”
“During John’s tenure, the Six Nations has evolved into the greatest annual international rugby competition and much of that is down to the fantastic work and commitment of John,” added Six Nations Chairman Pat Whelan.
“The Championship is in a very strong position with viewing figures and attendances continuing to rise and the overall quality the best it has ever been.”
“John has been a tremendous leader for us over the past 16 years and we have enormous respect and admiration for everything he has achieved. We all wish him the very best for the future.”
“John skilfully guided us through four successful Lions Tours from 2005 to 2017 on and off the pitch which saw some tremendous rugby played along the way but more importantly cherished memories created,” added Tom Grace, Chair of the British and Irish Lions.
“John’s passion for the game and dedication to constantly improving the British & Irish Lions as an organisation was exemplary and we wish him every success for the future.”
With a new Director General and President at the GAA, a new Head of Sport at RTÉ, a new CEO at the Olympic Council of Ireland and a new CEO at the Gaelic Players Association, Athletics Ireland and the Federation of Irish Sport, it is a year of spectacular change in the corridors of power of Irish sport.
Image credit: Dan Sheridan, Inpho