Wimbledon boss new RFU chief
London - The man responsible for running the Wimbledon tennis championships is to be the new chief executive of England's Rugby Football Union (RFU), the under-fire governing body announced on Wednesday.
Ian Ritchie, the chief executive of the All England and Lawn Tennis Club, moves across London with Twickenham in a state of flux following a year of off-field wrangling compounded by a wretched performance at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.
The RFU has been without a permanent chief executive since John Steele was forced out in June after a botched attempt to create a new performance director role many thought would go to 2003 World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward.
Then RFU chairman Martyn Thomas was forced to stand down in the ensuing furore and last month he quit as acting RFU chief executive on Tuesday.
He was replaced in the acting role by Stephen Brown, who now reverts to his previous post of RFU chief financial officer.
Ian Metcalfe, the RFU board member who led the recruitment, said of Ritchie: "He was the standout candidate with his combination of business acumen, leadership qualities and background in sports administration.
"We could not have wished for a better candidate who is so highly respected across sport and the business sectors."
Ritchie, also a director of Wembley Stadium and formerly a chief executive of broadcaster Channel Five, said: "I am very proud to be taking up the role of chief executive at the RFU and am excited about the chance to further develop the potential that the RFU and the game offers.
"I believe English rugby has a very bright future, culminating in a once in a lifetime home World Cup in 2015. I am determined to help rugby create a legacy from the tournament that will benefit the sport for generations to come.
"The RFU has great commercial partners and a very sound financial base, underpinning the development of rugby union at grassroots and elite level.
"The decision to leave the AELTC was a difficult one...I know that Wimbledon will continue to go from strength to strength with its exceptional leadership and fantastic management and staff."
The most pressing issue facing Ritchie will be the appointment of a new permanent head coach to succeed Martin Johnson, who resigned after a World Cup where England limped into the quarter-finals, only to lose to France, and several squad members were involved in embarrassing off-field incidents.
A series of leaked reports into England's campaign in New Zealand painted a picture of a divided, poorly led and ill-disciplined squad.
Stuart Lancaster, formerly coach of the reserve team Saxons, has been placed in caretaker charge of the senior side for the defence of England's Six Nations title starting in February.