Katie Sadleir has been appointed World Rugby's first General Manager for Women's Rugby after an extensive recruitment process.
Sadleir, who represented New Zealand at the 1984 Olympic Games and won a medal at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in synchronised swimming, will take up the new role on 1 November, 2016.
Sadleir joins with strong experience in sports and sports governance. As the GM Sport, she was involved from participation to performance levels and was accountable for the transformation of New Zealand's High Performance System in 1999. From 2009-2015 she held directorships with both Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand. She also served as Director with the International Association of Elite Sport Training Centres, a board member on the New Zealand Swimming Federation and a New Zealand Olympic Athletes' Commission committee member before joining World Rugby.
With momentum and anticipation building ahead of Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 in Ireland, the new role underpins World Rugby's commitment to the women's game, which captured the imagination of millions of new fans when rugby sevens made its debut at the Olympic Games last month.
Sadleir, who lived in Canada before moving to New Zealand, will be responsible for the development of the women's global game, increasing participation numbers and will have input into the women's high-performance strategy.
Sadleir said: "I'm very excited about joining the team at World Rugby and contributing to a truly global sport.
"My focus will be on moving the women's game forward and capitalising on the global excitement and potential following rugby's involvement in the Olympic Games last month.
"One third of all participants from our Get Into Rugby programmes are women and the aim is to keep these participants in the game as registered players. This will involve developing competition pathways at both national and international level, as well as improving the performance of national teams. I'm really looking forward to engaging with all our unions as well as learning from other sports that have positively developed women's sport.”
World Rugby Women's Advisory Committee chairman and Australian Rugby Union CEO, Bill Pulver said: "It's great to see someone of Katie's calibre join the team at World Rugby, and bring a wealth of experience to the Women's GM role.
"With the massive lift given to the women's game from the Olympics and Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 less than a year away, she has all the attributes to ensure the continued sustainable growth and success of women's rugby."