Rugby World Cup 2015
Vaughan quits World Cup post
ESPN Staff
September 5, 2012

Comment: Graham Jenkins, Senior Editor, ESPNscrum

  • "With the memorable 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand still fresh in the memory and the simply outstanding Olympics and Paralympics still playing out in London, English rugby chiefs are clearly worried that the next global showpiece will not live up to the same standard.
  • "Vaughan's departure was apparently by "mutual consent" but the quotes from ER 2015 chairman Andy Cosslett suggest he had little say in the matter and with planning "on schedule" and stakeholders "comfortable" he can feel a little harshly treated especially given his 11 years service with the RFU.
  • "Wary that they must get this "once in a lifetime" opportunity right if the tournament is to make a profit and benefit the game in England in long run, ER 2015 have taken this bold step in the hope of replicating the feel-good factor and level of engagement seen in the UK in recent weeks. And in Jevans they clearly have someone who boasts the skill set and experience to deliver this."

Paul Vaughan has stepped down from his post as chief executive of England Rugby 2015 (ER 2015), the company responsible for organising the next World Cup, by "mutual consent" and is set to be replaced by one of the architects of the London 2012 Olympic Games - Debbie Jevans.

Vaughan, the former Rugby Football Union business operations director, was appointed the head of ER 2015, the wholly owned subsidiary of the RFU tasked with delivering the sport's showpiece event, in December 2010 and had been due to deliver an update on preparations for the tournament later this month.

However, he has become a major casualty of a shake-up that it is hoped will "inject new life" into proceedings with ER 2015 chairman Andy Cosslett determined to deliver the best possible event by taking things to the "next level".

"Paul has been at the heart of the RFU for the past 11 years, most recently here as CEO of ER 2015, where he has laid some very strong foundations," Cosslett said in a statement. "We are grateful to him for all the hard work he and his team have put in to enable ER 2015 to be ready for the next phase. Preparations have been continuing at a good pace, the planning is completely on schedule and stakeholders are comfortable."

Reports last month suggested that concerns were growing within ER 2015 about a perceived lack of urgency with the successful staging of the London 2012 Olympics significantly raising the bar for future sports events staged in England. It is a fact not lost on Cosslett who wants to replicate that same buzz and has looked to one of the key personnel responsible for an outstanding Games.

"With just over three years to go, now is a good time to add a fresh injection of experience to take us up to the next level. We are determined to make the most of this once in a generation opportunity for rugby in this country, to make this truly the best Rugby World Cup there has ever been."

A statement announced that a replacement for Vaughan would be "announced shortly" with confirmation of Jevans' appointment coming just minutes later, however, she will not take up the post until October and will therefore not be present at the next scheduled tournament update on September 17. Her arrival means ER 2015 will have appointed a new chairman and chief executive within the space of nine months with Cosslett only having joined the organisation in March of this year.

"This is an exciting appointment for ER 2015," added Cosslett. "Debbie is hugely respected across sport and rugby will benefit from her experience in leading large teams to deliver major sporting events to a global audience.

"Armed with this knowledge and pedigree across many facets of multi sport events we are delighted Debbie has decided to join us. Her London Olympic and Paralympic Games' experience will be vital as we look forward to hosting the Rugby World Cup."

ER 2015 board member and RFU CEO Ian Ritchie said, "Debbie is acknowledged as one of the architects of the London 2012 Olympics, which has clearly been a massive success. Her proven track record in delivering multiple events at multiple venues, driving innovation and enhancing the fan experience, along with exceptional relationships with key stakeholders, makes her the perfect fit."

Debbie Jevans, LOCOG director of sport for the London 2012 Olympics , London 2012 test event, Excel Arena, London, England, November 23, 2011
Debbie Jevans has been appointed the new CEO of ER 2015 and will take up her post in October © PA Photos

In her current role as director of sport at The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), Jevans is responsible for delivering the 26 Olympic and 20 Paralympic sports events as well as the Games-wide medical and anti-doping programmes. She was also part of the London 2012 bid, where she was responsible for compiling the venue strategy and gaining sign off from all the international federations. Prior to joining London 2012, she was the general secretary of the International Tennis Federation and worked on rugby's successful return to the Olympic programme.

On her high-profile career move, Jevans said, "I have spent the last decade planning and delivering the world's two largest sporting events. This has been an extraordinary journey and I am looking forward to putting my experience and expertise in to delivering an exceptional Rugby World Cup in 2015.

"As a passionate sports fan the next decade is a great one for the UK and we have an amazing opportunity to bring rugby and the values of sport to more fans across the country than ever before. I look forward to starting my new role next month. In the meantime my focus is on continuing to deliver a great Paralympic Games."

Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL), the owners of the tournament, and the International Rugby Board (IRB) have also expressed their gratitude to Vaughan and declared their excitement about the addition of Jevans to the ER 2015 team.

"The successful delivery of one of the world's largest sporting events is founded on a clear vision, partnership, teamwork and strong leadership," said RWCL and IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset. "As a driving force behind the exceptional London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Debbie certainly possesses all the necessary attributes to drive the delivery of what promises to be a special tournament.

"We are looking forward to continuing to work in partnership with ER 2015 chairman Andy Cosslett, Debbie and the ER 2015 and RFU teams to drive forward key operational objectives. These include venue selection, the match schedule and ticketing programme development which will all set a strong base for an outstanding Rugby World Cup in 2015 of which England and the global Rugby family will be proud.

"On behalf of RWCL and the IRB I would like to thank Paul Vaughan for his strong contribution to developing the early foundations for the delivery of Rugby World Cup 2015 in England and I wish him all the very best," added Lapasset.

The tournament will kick off on September 18 and culminate at Twickenham on October 31 with additional venues such as the Olympic Stadium, Wembley, Old Trafford and the Millennium Stadium all in line to host matches. The pool draw will take place in London on December 3.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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