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People on the move: WRU, Six Nations and more

Featured image credit: SecuTix/WRU/Portland Timbers

Nigel Walker has been named acting chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union following the resignation of Steve Phillips amid claims of misogyny, sexism and racism at the governing body.

Walker (pictured centre) currently serves as the WRU’s performance director and has been appointed acting chief executive by chair Ieuan Evans and his board, while the recruitment process for a permanent chief executive is established.

A documentary which aired on BBC Wales featured a number of former WRU employees who raised concerns over a “toxic culture” at the organisation. Phillips resigned after widespread criticism from clubs and players in Wales.

Walker said: “There is no doubt that Welsh rugby is facing an existential crisis. We must now listen intently to what people from outside our organisation are telling us.

“We care and are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and we work hard in this space with dedicated resource and investment. But we need to do better. We need to do much better and we will.”

Tom Harrison, the former chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), has been named chief executive of Six Nations Rugby.

He will join the organisation at the start of March and replace Ben Morel, who announced last month that he would be stepping down from the role. Morel had led Six Nations since 2018.

Harrison was named ECB chief executive in January 2015 and oversaw record levels of investment across the game. Richard Gould will replace Harrison at the ECB, moving from his current position as chief executive of Championship football club Bristol City.

Major League Soccer team Portland Timbers has named Heather Davis as chief executive.

Davis (pictured right) will oversee all business and operational aspects of the Timbers, Portland Thorns and Providence Park. Davis joined the club in May 2022 as general counsel after previously spending nine years as lead counsel for international operations at the NFL.

She is one of five women in MLS to currently oversee club business operations as president or chief executive, and becomes the first woman in the history of the Timbers to be appointed to the position. Prior to joining the NFL, Davis worked for major law firms and spent time working in the office of Senator Hillary Clinton as director of scheduling from 2001 to 2002.

Ticketing and engagement platform Secutix has appointed Michael McDermott as general manager of the Americas.

McDermott (pictured left) will lead go-to-market strategy and operations for Secutix in the region. He previously worked at Resort Technology Partners, where he oversaw global ticketing, access control and activity management.

McDermott also served as chief revenue officer for NCS Analytics and held roles with Oracle, Active Network and Maxwell Systems.

Craig Kelly, co-founder and chief executive of sports marketing agency TLA Worldwide, has been appointed chief executive of AFL Aussie rules team Collingwood FC.

Kelly played for Collingwood from 1989 to 1996 before co-founding TLA. He also led the club’s marketing and sales and events divisions.

At TLA, Kelly oversaw the company’s operations in Australia and the UK. He will commence his new role on February 20 and step down from all TLA executive and board positions.

Collingwood has also appointed Ian Peterson as chief commercial officer. Paterson has held senior roles at the Seven Network and Channel Nine.

French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Bernard Laporte has resigned from the role amid an ongoing corruption case.

Laporte was last month handed a two-year suspended prison sentence for corruption offences and initially stepped down as FFR president and vice-chairman of World Rugby.

He has now resigned as head of France’s national governing body as the country prepares to host the Rugby World Cup from September 8 to October 28.

Do you have news of an appointment that we should know about? Get in touch by emailing news.editor@thestadiumbusiness.com and we’ll include it in our next round-up.