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IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne will retire from his role at the end of the year, Irish Rugby has confirmed.
The announcement coincides with Browne’s birthday as the long-time servant of the IRFU turned 60 on Wednesday.
Browne has spent 29 years working for the sporting body that manages rugby union in Ireland, joining the organisation in July 1992 and climbing the ladder to Chief Executive in 1998.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Philip said: “It has long been my intention to retire from the role of Chief Executive to coincide with reaching the age of 60. I delayed my decision, given the recent extraordinary pressures on Irish rugby, as a result of the Covid pandemic.
“I now believe we are at a point where it is possible to commence plotting a sustainable route out of the pandemic and engage in a structured approach to future longer-term planning, hence the announcement of my decision at this time.
“It has been a privilege to serve as Chief Executive and while undoubtedly it has been a pressurised and challenging role it has, in equal measure, been a truly exciting and rewarding career.
“I would like to thank the various Union committees with whom I have worked and the staff of the Union for their unwavering support as, together, we oversaw the constant changes required to ensure the Union remained relevant to its constituents and the world game.
“I intend, in time, to reflect on possible future part-time commitments but, as of now, have no definite plans.”
Des Kavanagh, President of the Irish Rugby Football Union responded to the news: “Philip Browne has been an exemplary Chief Executive of the IRFU over a period of enormous change within rugby and broader society.
“His calm demeanour and wise counsel have been critical in charting an effective course for our game throughout his tenure.
“In recognising his outstanding career, I, on behalf of the IRFU Committee, all his colleagues and the wider rugby family, express our sincere thanks to him.”
Declan Madden, Chairman of the IRFU Management Committee, commented: “Irish Rugby has been extremely fortunate to have had at its helm for such a significant time a person of Philip Browne’s calibre.
“His vision, integrity and commitment have made him one of the standout figures, not just in Irish sporting and business circles, but also in World Rugby over that time.
“His contribution to Irish Rugby has, quite simply, been immeasurable. Never one to seek the limelight, he has been the constant in overseeing unprecedented playing and commercial success for Irish rugby over three decades.
“We are truly grateful to Philip and wish him every good fortune as he moves on with his life.”
The IRFU will now begin a search for the next Chief Executive with the help of international recruitment consultancy Korn Ferry.
Kevin Potts, Chief Operating Officer, will assume the role of Interim Chief Executive when Browne departs.