World Rugby has announced the appointment of Tom Hill as Chief Commercial Officer.

A leader with a proven track record during nearly 20 years at the leading edge of the global sporting commercial environment, Hill starts his new role end of September 2017 and joins as rugby continues to experience record global participation, fanbase and commercial growth.

Hill will be responsible for driving forward World Rugby’s commercial, broadcast and marketing strategies as the sport seeks to break new markets as a mainstream sport, inspiring new audiences and unlocking commercial opportunities in line with its strategic vision to grow the global rugby family.

Hill joins from Manchester United, one of the biggest sports brands, where, as Global Head of Partnerships & Operations, he was part of a highly-successful commercial team, growing the club’s sponsorship revenues through the acquisition and retention of international partnerships.

A rugby fan, Hill has also extensive elite rugby pedigree, having held previous roles as Sales and Marketing Manager for the Rugby Football Union (2005-2008), General Manager of the England Rugby Supporters’ Club (2002-2005) and Commercial Director with English club Saracens (1998-2002).

World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “Tom’s exceptional track record with some of the biggest brands in sport is perfectly suited to World Rugby’s strategic mission to grow the global game through expanding and strengthening our commercial footprint, unlocking partner opportunities in new markets and inspiring new audiences through fan-first innovative broadcast and digital channels.”

“Tom joins a strong and dynamic management team at a time of exceptional global growth, Rugby World Cup going from strength to strength with a record Worldwide Partner programme for the first tournament in Asia in 2019 and strong candidates for 2023, the growth of rugby sevens as an Olympic sport and more fans than ever before engaging with us and the sport through social media.”

Hill added: “I am delighted to be joining the experienced team at World Rugby. It is a sport that I am very passionate about and have grown up with, both playing and latterly coaching. I am excited about the depth and breadth of commercial opportunities for the sport, which will ultimately underpin accelerated global growth.”

“The overwhelmingly positive reaction of sports fans and non-sports fans to rugby sevens’ debut at the Rio Olympic Games, especially among younger audiences in new markets and the explosive participation and interest growth in women’s rugby, is very exciting when considering the future commercial strategy.”

Driven by the commercial success of Rugby World Cup and the growth of the Olympic sport of rugby sevens, World Rugby continues to invest record sums in the global development of the sport on and off the field.

A record leap in participation of more than 750,000 in 2016 has seen the total rugby community break 8.5 million, while an additional 1.99 million children participated in World Rugby and member union Get Into Rugby activities over the last 12 months, demonstrating the youth appeal of the sport at a time of unprecedented entertainment choice.  Nielsen estimate that there are more than 300 million rugby fans worldwide, while Rio 2016 increased the fanbase in emerging markets by more than 30 million.